Destruction of Canaanites

From BibleStrength

A popular criticism of the Bible made is that God was unjust, unmerciful, and cruel by ordering the destruction of the Canaanite nations as seen in the books of Joshua and Judges. But logically the United States was forced to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II, and to kill many German Nazis in order to free the world from tyranny and save the lives of innocent people, so therefore there can prove mitigating circumstances where an act of apparent destruction is necessary for a greater good to save lives. Thus it is important to ask the question no one ever seems to ask here, "Why did God destroy the nations?"

Why the Destruction?

Obviously if God was just wiping out nations because He felt like it or for the vague accusation of "idolatry" there would be little ethical justification for worshiping such a God. Moreover, if He stated why He was doing so only after the fact it would come across as a lame attempt to justify His actions. For there to be a horrible wrong He was confronting one would expect to see this referenced both before the destruction and constantly throughout the Bible... which is exactly what we see.

Child Sacrifice


God told Moses and the Israelites before they ever entered Canaan a list of reasons for why the nations were being destroyed (see Leviticus 18 and Deuteronomy 18), and that list included the horrific crime of child sacrifice to the Canaanite idols of Baal and Molech.

Preventing Spread of Practice

God furthermore explicitly forbade Israelites from marrying into the nations knowing that if they did so they would adopt the horrible practice of murdering their own children so that it would spread worldwide. It appears Israel was beginning to adopt this horrible practice even before they entered Canaan, see Numbers 31.


Israel deliberately disobeyed God's commandment to destroy the nations, and did end up adopting the practice of child sacrifice.

God Punishes Israel for Child Sacrifice

God's constant punishment of Israel, including the Babylonian captivity, was in large part because they insisted upon child sacrifice to Baal and Molech.


While critics will likely still jump at the opportunity to attack the God of the Bible over this subject, it should be abundantly clear that God was attempting to destroy the Satan-inspired practice of child sacrifice (see 1 Corinthians 10:20, behind idols are devils). It may well be this was the early origin of today's abortions. God was trying to destroy the nations that wholly engaged in child sacrifice to rid the world of a horrible, horrible sin. One could very well argue God was more justified in doing so than America was in bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II, since rather than trying to stop world domination, He was trying to stop the domination of the world by child sacrifice.

Ultimately, only God alone is truly ethical and wise; only God is without sin. Human beings will attempt to justify their own evil actions and lifestyles, including by attacking the just God who condemns those actions. God is the judge of whether child sacrifice is wrong and how wrong it is. We can only get a glimpse of how God is justified and what the depth of His moral reasoning is, but I would hope most people in seeing the above passages can begin to recognize how completely justified God will prove to have been regarding His actions in this matter.