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Tagged Joshua 5:13-6:27
This is a tough question we have to face. There are no easy answers. In today’s reading the Israelites killed not just combatants but also civilians and animals – women, children, young, old, cattles, sheep, donkeys. On the other hand, not only Rahab was saved but also her family; the innocent was saved but also some ‘guilty’ ones. Two observations:
a) there seems to be a different view in ancient Hebrew culture of who is ‘innocent’ and who is ‘guilty’; these verdicts are shared by the community rather than pinned to isolated individuals. Guilt taints everything around it; it spreads from the direct perpetrators to all around, even staining animals residing in the guilty culture. Can we cope with this idea? And who has the authority to decide anyway?
b) we are (rightly) appalled by the ‘Holy Wars’ of modern history. But is it ever technically possible for there to be genuinely justified Holy War? Does our instinctive disgust towards those who kill in the name of religion cloud our thinking at all?
We are worlds apart from the worldview of the Hebrews in so many ways. We are super-sensitized to the yukkiness of blood and guts because we never see any; they saw it all the time. We think individualistically; they thought collectively. Our default mindset (even for most Christians) is secular; theirs was theistic.
No easy answers. But I thank God that there is enough about my faith I can be sure of to carry the uncertainties and ambiguities that defy explanation