Can the Bible be God's Word?
You are reading Can the Bible be God's Word? by Steve McRoberts
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Chapter 6: Joshua

Josh:1:5: There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.

This was the promise made by God to Moses' successor Joshua. However, was it really true to state that God had always been with Moses, and had not failed or forsaken Moses? At one point God tried to kill Moses (Ex. 4:20-26). At another point, God went back on his promise to bring Moses into the "promised land" (Num. 20:12). So, if I were Joshua, God's promise to treat me the same as he treated Moses would be far from reassuring!

Josh:2:1: And Joshua the son of Nun sent out of Shittim two men to spy secretly, saying, Go view the land, even Jericho. And they went, and came into an harlot's house, named Rahab, and lodged there.

Joshua sent these men on a military mission. But they immediately went to a whore's house and spent the night with her. There is no record that they actually did any spying.

When the king of the land heard that these spies were in his land, the prostitute (Rahab) decided to aid and abet the enemy of her people by hiding the men and then helping them escape (after getting them to pledge that they would spare her and her family in the coming massacre).

Josh:2:15: Then she let them down by a cord through the window: for her house was upon the town wall, and she dwelt upon the wall.

When the big day finally arrived, the Israelites destroyed the wall surrounding the city by shouting at it:

Josh:6:20: So the people shouted when the priests blew with the trumpets: and it came to pass, when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city.
Josh:6:21: And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword.
Josh:6:22: But Joshua had said unto the two men that had spied out the country, Go into the harlot's house, and bring out thence the woman, and all that she hath, as ye sware unto her.
Josh:6:23: And the young men that were spies went in, and brought Rahab, and her father, and her mother, and her brethren, and all that she had; and they brought out all her kindred, and left them without the camp of Israel.

How were they able to go into Rahab's house and bring her and her family out? Rahab's house, you'll recall, was "upon the wall": the very wall that had just fallen down "flat".

Is the moral lesson here that one should betray one's country when one knows that the enemy is likely to prevail and when one can gain a personal advantage from it? Some call it "treason". Do you think this is a good lesson?

Why were innocent "ox, sheep, and asses" murdered? Why were innocent children and babies murdered? Is the moral lesson here that murder of the innocent is right as long as someone claims that God sanctioned it? Some call it "fanaticism" or "moral outrage". Do you think this is a good lesson?

After killing all the men, women, children, babies, and animals of Jericho, the invading horde of Israelites attempted to do likewise to the inhabitants of the city of Ai. But -- despite God's promise to always be with Joshua and that no man would be able to stand before him -- they failed:

Josh:7:5: And the men of Ai smote of them about thirty and six men: for they chased them from before the gate even unto Shebarim, and smote them in the going down: wherefore the hearts of the people melted, and became as water.

Joshua asked God how this could have happened, and God replied:

Josh:7:11: Israel hath sinned, and they have also transgressed my covenant which I commanded them: for they have even taken of the accursed thing, and have also stolen, and dissembled also, and they have put it even among their own stuff.
Josh:7:12: Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies, but turned their backs before their enemies, because they were accursed: neither will I be with you any more, except ye destroy the accursed from among you.

It would have been nice if God had told him this before Joshua sent his men to fight at Ai. 36 lives were lost because God neglected to tell Joshua that they were doomed to fail due to the unknown transgression.

What horrible deed was it that caused God to turn his back on his chosen people and leave them to the mercy of their enemies? Had someone murdered a child or infant? No; murdering children and infants was commanded by God. The horrible deed was simply the taking of some material items of which the dead victims no longer had a need. Achan was the culprit, and the God of justice meted out the following punishment:

Josh:7:15: And it shall be, that he that is taken with the accursed thing shall be burnt with fire, he and all that he hath: because he hath transgressed the covenant of the LORD, and because he hath wrought folly in Israel.

Josh:7:24: And Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, and the silver, and the garment, and the wedge of gold, and his sons, and his daughters, and his oxen, and his asses, and his sheep, and his tent, and all that he had: and they brought them unto the valley of Achor.
Josh:7:25: And Joshua said, Why hast thou troubled us? the LORD shall trouble thee this day. And all Israel stoned him with stones, and burned them with fire, after they had stoned them with stones.

Do you think it was fair to execute Achan's sons and daughters when they had done nothing wrong? What about the animals which Achan called his? Did they deserve to be stoned to death? Do you think our justice system should be patterned after the Bible? If not, how can it be that mere men can devise a system of justice more fair than God's?

But what about Achan himself? Did he really deserve to die for having taken some "spoils of war"? Hadn't the Israelites taken such spoils in the past? Achan and his entire family were stoned to death for Achan's having taken a coat, some silver, and some gold. How astonishing, then, to read the very next words of God to Joshua:

Josh:8:1: And the LORD said unto Joshua, Fear not, neither be thou dismayed: take all the people of war with thee, and arise, go up to Ai: see, I have given into thy hand the king of Ai, and his people, and his city, and his land:
Josh:8:2: And thou shalt do to Ai and her king as thou didst unto Jericho and her king: only the spoil thereof, and the cattle thereof, shall ye take for a prey unto yourselves: lay thee an ambush for the city behind it.

After killing a man's entire family and their animals over the issue of taking spoils in war, God told the Israelites to go ahead and take the spoils! If taking spoil is okay, why had he just ordered the execution of Achan's family? Could the spoils of Ai be so morally different from the spoils of the neighboring town of Jericho?

Josh:8:25: And so it was, that all that fell that day, both of men and women, were twelve thousand, even all the men of Ai.
Josh:8:26: For Joshua drew not his hand back, wherewith he stretched out the spear, until he had utterly destroyed all the inhabitants of Ai.
Josh:8:27: Only the cattle and the spoil of that city Israel took for a prey unto themselves, according unto the word of the LORD which he commanded Joshua.
Josh:8:28: And Joshua burnt Ai, and made it an heap for ever, even a desolation unto this day.
Josh:8:29: And the king of Ai he hanged on a tree until eventide: and as soon as the sun was down, Joshua commanded that they should take his carcase down from the tree, and cast it at the entering of the gate of the city, and raise thereon a great heap of stones, that remaineth unto this day.
Josh:8:30: Then Joshua built an altar unto the LORD God of Israel in mount Ebal,
Josh:8:31: As Moses the servant of the LORD commanded the children of Israel, as it is written in the book of the law of Moses, an altar of whole stones, over which no man hath lift up any iron: and they offered thereon burnt offerings unto the LORD, and sacrificed peace offerings.
Josh:8:32: And he wrote there upon the stones a copy of the law of Moses, which he wrote in the presence of the children of Israel.
Josh:8:33: And all Israel, and their elders, and officers, and their judges, stood on this side the ark and on that side before the priests the Levites, which bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD, as well the stranger, as he that was born among them; half of them over against mount Gerizim, and half of them over against mount Ebal; as Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded before, that they should bless the people of Israel.
Josh:8:34: And afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessings and cursings, according to all that is written in the book of the law.
Josh:8:35: There was not a word of all that Moses commanded, which Joshua read not before all the congregation of Israel, with the women, and the little ones, and the strangers that were conversant among them.

After murdering the men, women, and children of Ai, Joshua proceeded to meticulously build an altar to his God of war. Then he read the 'Bible' ("all the words of Moses" -- commonly believed to be the first five books of our present-day Bible). No one in the crowd evidently found the least discrepancy between murdering 12,000 innocent people and the words of the Bible. Maybe Joshua whispered the part about "Thou shalt not kill."

After having witnessed the slaughter of their neighbors, the inhabitants of Gibeon sent an entourage to Joshua. The entourage pretended to be from a distant country, and they tricked Joshua into swearing a peace pact with them.

Josh:9:15: And Joshua made peace with them, and made a league with them, to let them live: and the princes of the congregation sware unto them.

After Joshua discovered that they were people he was really supposed to kill on God's orders, he became angry with them:

Josh:9:22: And Joshua called for them, and he spake unto them, saying, Wherefore have ye beguiled us, saying, We are very far from you; when ye dwell among us?
Josh:9:23: Now therefore ye are cursed, and there shall none of you be freed from being bondmen, and hewers of wood and drawers of water for the house of my God.
Josh:9:24: And they answered Joshua, and said, Because it was certainly told thy servants, how that the LORD thy God commanded his servant Moses to give you all the land, and to destroy all the inhabitants of the land from before you, therefore we were sore afraid of our lives because of you, and have done this thing.

So, Joshua cursed his enemies (in direct contradiction to Jesus' words in Mt. 5:44). Since he could not murder them without going back on his oath, he enslaved them.

When word spread in Canaan that the Gibeonites had made peace with the invading horde, five nations banded together to attack Gibeon. But Joshua's army defended the Gibeonites and pursued their attackers with God's assistance:

Josh:10:10: And the LORD discomfited them before Israel, and slew them with a great slaughter at Gibeon, and chased them along the way that goeth up to Beth-horon, and smote them to Azekah, and unto Makkedah.
Josh:10:11: And it came to pass, as they fled from before Israel, and were in the going down to Beth-horon, that the LORD cast down great stones from heaven upon them unto Azekah, and they died: they were more which died with hailstones than they whom the children of Israel slew with the sword.

If we are to believe the Bible, we cannot attribute all of this bloody slaughter to one evil man named Joshua; the Bible plainly states that God himself killed most of the people by stoning them!

Josh:10:12: Then spake Joshua to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon.
Josh:10:13: And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day.

Today we know that the sun does not move around the earth, but rather that the earth orbits the sun and spins on its axis once a day, making the sun appear to travel across the sky from a stationery observer's viewpoint on earth. We also know that everything in space is in constant movement as the universe expands, and nothing in space has ever "stood still". But even if the sun had "stood still upon Gibeon" for about a whole day, Joshua and his army wouldn't have been able to perceive it, because as long as the earth continued to spin, the sun would disappear over the horizon at dusk just as on any other day. In order for the sun to appear to "stand still" in the sky, the earth would have to stop spinning. The earth spins at approximately 1,000 miles per hour at the equator. If it were to suddenly stop it would kill virtually all life on the planet. Imagine traveling in a super-sonic jet at top speed and then instantly stopping: you'd die. Anything not instantly killed by the sudden stop would be pulverized or drowned by the enormous tidal waves which would follow. Imagine yourself on that super sonic jet again, this time with a glass full of water, and trying not to spill a drop as you stopped and then started again.

This verse was used by the Catholic Church as "proof" that Galileo was wrong when he stated that the earth moved around the sun:

"But what, more than all, raised alarm was anxiety for the credit of Holy Scripture, the letter of which was then universally believed to be the supreme authority in matters of science, as in all others. When therefore it spoke of the sun staying his course at the prayer of Joshua, or the earth as being ever immovable, it was assumed that the doctrine of Copernicus and Galileo was anti-Scriptural; and therefore heretical."

--Catholic Encyclopedia Vol. VI under "Galileo Galilei".

The Church forced Galileo to recant, and the truth was once again denied in favor of ignorance, thanks to the Bible. Centuries passed before the Catholic Church finally admitted that they were wrong and Galileo was right. Not many people bothered to make the connection between this and the fact that it meant the Bible was wrong as well. Instead, people simply "explained away" the contradiction between the Bible and reality by pretending that the Bible meant something other than what it said. Such a fallback plan had already been laid out in Galileo's time by one of his inquisitor's:

"I say that if a real proof be found that the sun is fixed and does not revolve round the earth, but the earth round the sun, then it will be necessary, very carefully, to proceed to the explanation of the passages of Scripture which appear to be contrary, and we should rather say that we have misunderstood these than pronounce that to be false which is demonstrated."

--Cardinal Bellarmine

But, as we've seen, even this attempt to rescue the Bible fails: if we "interpret" the passage to mean that the sun appeared to "stand still" due to a cessation in the turning of the earth, that would've meant a worldwide cataclysm.

If the earth had actually stopped spinning for a day -- and somehow life survived that catastrophic event -- there would be countless records of this astounding phenomenon from cultures all over the globe. Many civilizations at that time were based largely on astronomy, and there were astronomers and astrologers galore whose sole job it was to watch the sky and report any changes. However, this painfully obvious event of the earth standing still for a day somehow escaped everyone's notice and the sole report we have of it is here in the Bible. How likely do you suppose it is that this event actually occurred?

Josh:10:14: And there was no day like that before it or after it, that the LORD hearkened unto the voice of a man: for the LORD fought for Israel.

According to this, this was the only day in which God had ever listened to a man and fought for Israel. This puts the lie to the following verse in Numbers:

Num:21:3: And the LORD hearkened to the voice of Israel, and delivered up the Canaanites; and they utterly destroyed them and their cities: and he called the name of the place Hormah.

Deuteronomy 9:19 and 10:10 also records instances in which Moses claimed, "the LORD hearkened unto me". According to this verse in Joshua, however, Moses lied.

There follows a very repetitive account in which the same description is given seven times for the seven additional cities that the Israelites destroyed. Then this summary is given:

Josh:10:40: So Joshua smote all the country of the hills, and of the south, and of the vale, and of the springs, and all their kings: he left none remaining, but utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the LORD God of Israel commanded.
Josh:10:41: And Joshua smote them from Kadesh-barnea even unto Gaza, and all the country of Goshen, even unto Gibeon.
Josh:10:42: And all these kings and their land did Joshua take at one time, because the LORD God of Israel fought for Israel.

Killing everything that breathed would include the non-human animal inhabitants of these cities. How had these animals merited death? Were the animals which the Israelites brought with them into the land morally superior, so that God was justified in fighting for the Israelites in their murder of these animals? Doesn't such a thought strike you as utterly absurd?

Josh:11:20: For it was of the LORD to harden their hearts, that they should come against Israel in battle, that he might destroy them utterly, and that they might have no favour, but that he might destroy them, as the LORD commanded Moses.

Once again we learn that God purposely hardened people's hearts so that they would behave in such a manner that they would deserve destruction. However, fighting in self-defense to protect your life, the lives of your loved ones, and your home, is hardly the type of action deserving of God's wrath.

Josh:15:16: And Caleb said, He that smiteth Kirjath-sepher, and taketh it, to him will I give Achsah my daughter to wife.
Josh:15:17: And Othniel the son of Kenaz, the brother of Caleb, took it: and he gave him Achsah his daughter to wife.

Under the laws of the United States this would be considered incest: a marriage between first cousins. Such a relationship must not be incestuous from the Bible's viewpoint, however, since Caleb arranged this marriage and the Bible tells us that Caleb "wholly followed the LORD God of Israel." (Josh. 14:14).

Josh:17:12: Yet the children of Manasseh could not drive out the inhabitants of those cities; but the Canaanites would dwell in that land.

You'll recall that the book of Joshua opened with a solemn promise from God that no man would be able to stand against Joshua and his army of Israelites. It appears this promise failed since the verse above states that in some cities the Israelites were not able to drive out the inhabitants of the land.

Josh:21:44: And the LORD gave them rest round about, according to all that he sware unto their fathers: and there stood not a man of all their enemies before them; the LORD delivered all their enemies into their hand.

Josh:23:9: For the LORD hath driven out from before you great nations and strong: but as for you, no man hath been able to stand before you unto this day.

The above verses are simply untrue in light of the fact that there were certain cities where the Israelites were unable to drive out the enemy (Josh. 17:12).

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