There are pacifisms of various degrees that can't stand citizens abetting war, much less war, much less conquest, much less by divine right, and least of all annihilation. What is NOT difficult for some, in Joshua 6-8? Did we mention claiming that a miracle occurs?
Take first, that a miracle occurs underlying the conquest of Jericho (Josh. 6:20). The "captain of the LORD's host" (5:15) is there for some reason, and God is with Joshua, speaking to him, telling him "'See, I have given Jericho into your hand'" (6:2), way before anything commences. The walls falling down is no accident or earthquake interpretation: it comes from God, as shown by God telling Joshua about it way ahead of time (6:5).
Therefore, this is no vanilla miracle story. It is announced beforehand. The nation is prepared to deal with adversaries (5:13). There is some kind of 'God doing the same thing as before' theme going on: the Jordan's waters dried up "just as the Lord your God had done to the Sea of Reeds" (4:23). The holy ground where Joshua is standing (5:15) is almost the same as Ex 3:5.
Therefore this is a claim to the miraculous. It is a claim to be working together with a miraculous God who has an army, a "host." If this is not clear to the reader already, the instructions for conquering Jericho could not make it plainer, although they do: God says "See, I have given [notice the tense, as if it's already a done deal...] Jericho into your hand, with its king and the valiant warriors" (6:2). These kinds of instructions have not successfully made it into the military strategy books.
IF this is truly a nation working together with the Creator of the universe plus His heavenly army, don't the other issues first mentioned take on a different light?
Instead of asking if someone (Rahab) was ethically justified to betray her culture, we must ask how God Himself got to her, singling her out for mercy.
Instead of asking if war is ever justified, we must ask how God successfully turned the nation we saw in four books of the Bible as failures into a nation that put together a whole army that was convinced, on the same day, at the same time, at the same moment, to rely on a miracle.
Instead of asking whether a nation is justified in conquering another nation, we must ask how a whole army can be disciplined to avoid taking private spoils and give everything of material value to the religious people.
Instead of asking how nations fool their armies into thinking their cause is right, we must ask how the very same army can be an agent of God in one battle, and lose the right to represent Him in battle the very next time out, because of one instance of greed (7:13), miraculously discovered (7:18).
Finally, instead of asking about the ethics of annihilation, we must ask that if the Righteous Creator removes all corruption, why is anyone still here?
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