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In my previous blog, “What of War, Et Cetera?”, I pointed out that God in His great love for people wants to see the lost get saved. I also contrasted the strong military tradition and might of Old Testament Israel with the great pacifism of some believers in the early Church. It was noted that Israel was able to wage war and kill its opponents without penalty since this was ordained by God. Knowing this, and also knowing that God loves the lost, how could this be? To the uninformed and to those new in Christ, this can seem like a glaring contradiction, but remember, the Bible never actually contradicts itself. When two seemingly opposite elements appear in the Word, there is always an underlying truth tying them together. With that said, what of the ban? For that matter, what is the ban?


In the Bible, the Hebrew word for ban is haram (khaw-RAM) and it actually has several meanings. One of those is to devote, as in devoting something to God. Another meaning is to mutilate or divide. But it is one more facet of “haram” that is significant here. In that other facet this word, which here can be rendered as “ban”, can mean to prohibit (for common use), to dedicate for destruction, to destroy utterly, to completely destroy, or to exterminate. There were some groups of people in the land of Canaan (the Promised Land) who were indubitably under the ban. See for yourself:


Deuteronomy 7:1-5, 16, 23-26:  “When the LORD your God brings you into the land which you go to possess, and has cast out many nations before you, the Hittites and the Girgashites and the Amorites and the Canaanites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than you, and when the LORD your God delivers them over to you, you shall conquer them and utterly destroy them. You shall make no covenant with them nor show mercy to them. Nor shall you make marriages with them. You shall not give your daughter to their son, nor take their daughter for your son. For they will turn your sons away from following Me, to serve other gods; so the anger of the LORD will be aroused against you and destroy you suddenly. But thus you shall deal with them: you shall destroy their altars, and break down their sacred pillars, and cut down their wooden images and burn their carved images with fire.”…“Also you shall destroy all the peoples whom the LORD your God delivers over to you; your eye shall have no pity on them; nor shall you serve their gods, for that will be a snare to you.”…“But the LORD your God will deliver them over to you, and will inflict defeat upon them until they are destroyed. And He will deliver their kings into your hand, and you will destroy their name from under heaven; no one shall be able to stand against you until you have destroyed them. You shall burn the carved images of their gods with fire; you shall not covet the silver or gold that is on them, nor take it for yourselves, lest you be snared by it; for it is an abomination to the LORD your God. Nor shall you bring an abomination into your house, lest you be doomed to destruction like it. You shall utterly detest it and utterly abhor it, for it is an accursed thing.”


Given the fact that people can be saved and freed from various false religious and occultic practices, why were God’s orders so extraordinarily severe? There is more here than meets the eye. There were others who inhabited this region whom the Israelites would also be dealing with, and some of them were giants (Genesis 14:5-7; Numbers 13:1, 26-33; Deuteronomy 2:7-12, 3:1-11). Who were the giants? Originally they were the offspring of human women and angels who took on human form, interbreeding with them. When angels take on human form they also take on human functions (Genesis 18:1-8). This mixing of angels and human females first occurred before the Flood, and the rampant corruption of mankind resulting from it led to the destruction of all but eight people via that Flood (Genesis 6:1-12). The phrase “and also afterward” in Genesis 6:4 is an allusion to the same thing happening on earth after the Flood, as witness the existence of giants in the Promised Land. One significant giant was Goliath, the Philistine champion David killed (1 Samuel 17:4-51). God never intended for angels and humans to interbreed. His concern always has been for the redemption of humans only. Jesus came as a Man, in the likeness of man, to redeem humans. He did not come in the likeness of giants, therefore there is no redemption for these unintended beings.


Though a product of human/angelic interbreeding, their original nature was that of spirit beings, not flesh and blood, and only by the shedding of blood is there remission of sins, so their original nature’s  lack of blood was another strike against the giants (Mark 12:18-25; Jude 1:6-7; Hebrews 9:22). The giants were thus set on a course of irremediable sin, corruption, and evil. If they were allowed to intermingle with the Jewish people unchecked, the Jews’ bloodlines would be corrupted again as at the first, preventing the coming of their promised Messiah through their people (Genesis 3:15). The necessity of the Flood set the tone that the one and only solution to having giants in the land was to annihilate them, something the children of Israel failed to complete when taking the Promised Land. The books of Joshua and Judges attest to this. For more on the giants, see Part III of Lesson 1 in Level 2 of the Remnant Bible Study Course on this website, “Angels, Demons, and the Early World,” as well as Part I of Lesson 4 in Level 3 of the RBSC, “Deliverance.”


Besides the giants there were also a number of ordinary human beings among the inhabitants of the land that the Israelites were to conquer, and they were steeped in many centuries of idolatry. In ancient Canaan there were a number of gods and goddesses worshipped. Like in other pagan cultures, these false deities were supposed to be responsible for everything from creation to good health to fertility, abundant crops, wealth, good fortune, the weather, and so on. In the history of the world, up until the tower of Babel debacle in Genesis 11:1-9, God had appealed broadly to mankind in His redemptive efforts. Once that happened, the Lord changed His approach. No, He never quit loving people, but beginning in Genesis 12 God called a people unto Himself for His very own. While the rest of the world made do with the light of nature as witness that there was one true God (Romans 1:18-22), He began to build and to forge what was to become the children of Israel—the Hebrews, the Jews—and they would know Him intimately if they worshipped Him the way He decreed and loved Him truly. As the Israelites’ relationship with God developed, the rest of the world descended into all manner of idolatry and, refusing the light God left them, were given over to their sins (Romans 1:23-32).Examples of all manner of pagan religious practices and idolatry can be found in pagan archaeological worship sites worldwide, including evidence of human sacrifice. The inhabitants of the land of Canaan were not above this savagery, either.


Several false deities worshipped in this region of the world, such as Molech (also called Milcom), Annamelech, and Adrammelech, were worshipped via child sacrifice. Yes, even babies were murdered in these horrible practices. Other practices included rampant sexual debauchery of every kind conceivable—orgies, homosexuality, ritual prostitution, bestiality, and so on. There were many other sinful practices too numerous to investigate and explain in a blog, but in distilling all this, two salient facts emerge: (1) False religions, cults, and practices, including idolatry (the use of idols such as carved images in worship) usurp the rightful place of God as the one true and righteous Being who alone deserves to be worshipped; and (2) false religious practices, like all other sins, have a virtually unlimited capacity to corrupt human hearts. Generations of immoral people had lived in this region. Due to the own choices they had made, based on Romans 1:23-32, these people for a very long time, one generation after another, so hardened their hearts in idolatry that they became unredeemable. God did not want the same thing to happen to His chosen people, so He implemented drastic measures to guard against it, including the utter destruction of the people inhabiting the Promised Land—every man, woman, and child (Deuteronomy 20:16).


In reading through Israel’s conquest of the land you can often see those designated for destruction as being wiped out, along with their places of worship, idols and other religious papaphernalia, and their cities. Before any of this transpired, God told His people of the consequences of leaving their conquest incomplete:


Numbers 33:55:  But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then it shall be that those whom you let remain shall be irritants in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they shall harass you in the land where you dwell.


Joshua 23:11-13:  “Therefore take careful heed to yourselves, that you love the LORD your God. Or else, if indeed you do go back, and cling to the remnant of these nations—these that remain among you—and make marriages with them, and go in to them and they to you, know for certain that the LORD your God will no longer drive out these nations from before you. But they shall be snares and traps to you, and scourges on your sides and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from this good land which the LORD your God has given you.”


The children of Israel did, in fact, fail to completely remove the people from the land, and these dire warnings came to pass (Joshua 9:1-27; Judges 1:272:15). God did not give up on His people. The nation of Israel would strengthen, reaching its peak under David’s son Solomon, only to begin a decline that would culminate first in the splitting of Israel into two kingdoms and then in each kingdom going into captivity to their enemies (1 Kings 11:11-13; 2 Kings 17:5-18, 25:1-21). Even today, however, God still loves the Jews, as He does all of mankind.


We can see that what God commanded the Israelites to do was not a contradiction of who He is, but another manifestation of who He is. God does not willingly destroy anyone, but He does not force people to do His will, either, and He will not fix what He has seen as having become unredeemable. Whatever God does or God says for us to do, there is always a good and valid reason behind it. Whether cleaning out the Promised Land or defending their nation of Israel, the Jews were doing what they were supposed to do, thus there was no penalty against them. It was when they disobeyed that troubles came. It is the same for us—obedience pays, disobedience carries consequences. Those whom God placed under the ban were put there because there was no other way to deal with the problems they brought with them by their existence and continuance on this earth.




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