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Author Topic: Someone rationalize Numbers 31:13-18 please  (Read 4231 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: October 24, 2011, 05:20:29 AM »

Quote
Moses and Eleazar the priest and all the leaders of the congregation went out to meet them outside the camp. 14 Moses was angry with the officers of the army, the captains of thousands and the captains of hundreds, who had come from service in the war. 15 And Moses said to them, “Have you [a]spared all the women? 16 Behold, these caused the sons of Israel, through the [c]counsel of Balaam, to [d]trespass against the LORD in the matter of Peor, so the plague was among the congregation of the LORD. 17 Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known man [e]intimately. 18 But all the [f]girls who have not known man [g]intimately, [h]spare for yourselves.
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=numbers%2031:13-31:18&version=NASB

Is this another case of Moses working with what he had, the primitivness of man?
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« Reply #1 on: October 24, 2011, 09:13:39 AM »

Quote
Moses and Eleazar the priest and all the leaders of the congregation went out to meet them outside the camp. 14 Moses was angry with the officers of the army, the captains of thousands and the captains of hundreds, who had come from service in the war. 15 And Moses said to them, “Have you [a]spared all the women? 16 Behold, these caused the sons of Israel, through the [c]counsel of Balaam, to [d]trespass against the LORD in the matter of Peor, so the plague was among the congregation of the LORD. 17 Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known man [e]intimately. 18 But all the [f]girls who have not known man [g]intimately, [h]spare for yourselves.
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=numbers%2031:13-31:18&version=NASB

Is this another case of Moses working with what he had, the primitivness of man?
Is the question about killing the "experienced" women, or the keeping the virgins?
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« Reply #2 on: October 24, 2011, 10:05:35 AM »

Quote
Moses and Eleazar the priest and all the leaders of the congregation went out to meet them outside the camp. 14 Moses was angry with the officers of the army, the captains of thousands and the captains of hundreds, who had come from service in the war. 15 And Moses said to them, “Have you [a]spared all the women? 16 Behold, these caused the sons of Israel, through the [c]counsel of Balaam, to [d]trespass against the LORD in the matter of Peor, so the plague was among the congregation of the LORD. 17 Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known man [e]intimately. 18 But all the [f]girls who have not known man [g]intimately, [h]spare for yourselves.
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=numbers%2031:13-31:18&version=NASB

Is this another case of Moses working with what he had, the primitivness of man?

Note that not killing all of the males (and possible males) of a certain tribe hostile to the Israelites almost ended up with them being wiped out themselves via Haman the Agagite in the Book of Esther. 
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« Reply #3 on: October 24, 2011, 10:18:47 AM »

This is one of the gentler parts of the Old Testament.
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« Reply #4 on: October 24, 2011, 11:47:58 AM »

Not going to rationalize, just explain what seems apparent.

I believe the assumption here is that the married women were experienced in pagan practices, a problem that Israel continued long after to struggle with (c.f. Solomon's wives).  Marriage has long involved elaborate rituals and introduction to the household rites to appease the household gods.  Thus, a formerly married woman would have been a problem for Israel which always struggled with fidelity, and as in the case of Solomon, might have enticed her husband to sacrifice to her idols.

The unmarried women had not passed through the rites and could thus be 'kosherized' through conversion.  Remember, a man might 'keep' a girl for one of his sons (saving a lot of headaches with in-laws!) or allow her to mature and be trained in his house as a 'gift' for one of his men, if he was not married already.  With a high level of childbirth-related deaths amongst women, having a 'back-up wife' wasn't necessarily a bad deal for either involved.  Abram did it.

However, since the males had to be circumcized either on the eighth day or by voluntary conversion, they had to be put to death as unclean.


This is one of the gentler parts of the Old Testament.
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« Reply #5 on: October 24, 2011, 04:52:53 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

As an act of history, this event demonstrates the truth of the Mercy of God found in the New Covenant, as the details of the Old Covenant were quite harsh and considering the human condition, quite impossible to live by.  As it is written in Ezekiel 20, "Wherefore I gave them also statutes that were not good, and judgments whereby they should not live."

In the "Old Testament" God asked human beings much more than they are able.  This was to learn our dependence upon the Grace of God, as a matter of constant faith.  God asked the Israelites to kill folks on many occasions, and we can interpret these events as being similar to the context of Abraham about to slay Isaac.

As an allegorical narrative, we can see that we must by faith conquer those demons and spiritual forces which are tempestous, and "experienced" in the harlotry of self-seeking attitudes which draw people away from God in their hearts the way a harlot draws a man away from his wife, and harlotry itself drives a woman away from herself.  We must slay the demons within our own psychology, the savage men and loose women that live in our minds and dictate our self-destructive behavior.  We must in God's Grace overcome these negative forces which interact with our mind. The Ethiopian fathers in their commentaries most often reinterpret passages regarding folks dying, being killed, or war in the Old Testament as allegorical to the spiritual battles we face against Evil both in ourselves and outside.  We are as much our own demons as much as we are influenced by the demons of others.  The Mysteries, in the synergy of Grace, heal us of the wounds and scars of these battles, and strengthen us for the inevitable battles of the future, this is the responsibility of being endowed with the human agency of Free-Will.

stay blessed,
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« Reply #6 on: October 24, 2011, 10:42:36 PM »

God killed all the first-born of Egypt.  If you're comfortable with that, there's no reason to be uncomfortable with this.
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« Reply #7 on: October 25, 2011, 01:44:21 AM »

There have been many attempts to rationalize such matters -by both apologists and heretics- I think there is always something missing in them -especially the route of Marcion and the Manicheans who summarily rejected God as described in the OT -a strategy unanimously rejected by the Orthodox fathers of the first Christian millennium, but also of many Christian thinkers who have sought to minimize the problems involved. I'll also discuss Num 31 specifically. Obviously many sections of the OT relate to Israel as a nation at war. My personal view is that war can never strictly speaking be considered rational, holy, or just even when it has the ostensible sanction of God (explanation below). Having qualified the situation as being beyond fully resolving, I'll share some examples -not fully satisfactory perhaps- which have been offered toward that end.

If one wanted to presume there could be some sort of a "rationalist resolution," it might come along the lines Just War Theory in Western philosophy and theology which has remained a major field of inquiry from Augustine to the present. Without entering fully into this maze, we can mention some commonly held principles within this tradition:

War must be declared and engaged in by proper authority (Rom 13:4).
All attempts at peaceful negotiations have first failed (Rom 12:18; Heb 12:14; Deut 20:10; i.e. war must be undertaken only as a last resort).
Justly waged (Deut 20:19, 20 contra “scorched earth”; avoid unnecessary destruction, especially of that essential to continuation of life after war; avoidance of indiscriminate killing of non-combatants, etc.).
Protection of the innocent is a demand of love (Gen 14:14f).
Persons are more valuable than things (the OT represents the first time in human history this principle was affirmed).
Persons who respect personhood are to be preferred over those who do not.
Many lives are of more value than few lives.
Realistic expectation of success.

Even Wolfhardt Pannenberg, who ardently maintains no war is or can be ‘just,’ agrees a nation may have sufficient grounds to engage in war, e.g. in the instance of unprovoked attack, or even pre-emptively to “anticipate an attack that is certain to come.” (Pannenberg, Ethics, p. 179).

Such principles and their apparent (at least relative) biblical warrant notwithstanding, I fully embrace the kinds of reservations expressed by Pannenburg; Bloesch also cautions us about speaking of war as ‘just’ in the sense of something which might be viewed as untainted, even when it is divinely sanctioned:

“… sin is always present in war. Indeed, sin is accentuated in war. It comes to fruition in war, even if war has God’s secret sanction. Because its immediate cause is sin, it brings with it the penalty of divine judgment. Because of blood on his hands, David was not permitted to build the temple, even though the wars he engaged in presumably had God’s blessing (1 Kings 5:3; 1 Chron 22:8 )” (Donald Bloesch,  Freedom for Obedience, p. 290).

Though the OT speaks of Yahweh as a Warrior, OT scholar Peter Craigie reminds us that "War is a human activity, furthermore, it is a sinful human activity, revealing man's inhumanity to his fellow man. To describe God as a warrior [cf. the Song of Moses] is thus to say that God participates in human history, through sinful human beings, and through what have become the "normal" forms of human activity. Insofar as God is active in the world through human lives, he is employing fr his purpose sinful persons. To state it another way, God employs for his purpose of bringing salvation to the world the very human beings who need salvation [footnote: It is significant to note that 'salvation' in the Old Testament is a translation of a Hebrew word which has the primary sense of 'victory']. One point is becoming very clear: the activity of God in this world insofar as it involves human beings as agents, must always appear , to a greater or lesser extent, to be associated with sinfulness. But there is another side to this difficult statement. The participation of God in human history and through human lives does not primarily afford us a glimpse of his moral being; it demonstrates rather his will and activity" (Peter C. Craigie, The Problem of War in the Old Testament).

A very good statement of the dialectical tension involved in all violence comes from Alveus
Quote from: Alveus Lacuna
My current opinion is that all violence is tied inextricable with sin and that even to kill... another in defending a weaker one is tainted with corruption and sin. It is not "justified" or made righteous because there was some cause for it. When we have to act in such ways, it's still a sin that requires contrition and inner turmoil, not simply something with a seal of absolute approval. But I just can't get on board with the systematic idealistic type of pacifism that [some are] promoting because I think that it is the lesser of two evils, so to speak, to stop the hand of a vicious man against a helpless one then to let his violence be carried out against them. Because I would consider it a great evil for anyone to let children be slayed without cause. Dying for one's faith is one thing, but sacrificing others to one's own ideals is quite another.

Some of the relevant narratives do not reflect Israel as the lawgiver or priest to the nations so much as Israel the nation struggling to survive. Some writers such as Bloesch suggest the possibility that nations and governments bearing the sword may sometimes reflect the shadows as much as the light of God in a fallen world...

"To kill in the name of Christ and in order to advance the kingdom of Christ is expressly forbidden by Jesus (Mt 26:52, 53). Yet sometimes we have to take up the sword in order to preserve life, and this is permitted in the Bible but as something that pertains to the passing aeon, the world of sin and darkness, not to the new age of the kingdom of God. Since we belong to the old age as well as to the new, we act in two roles: as responsible citizens of the state, which can only maintain itself by force, and as ambassadors of the kingdom of Christ, which maintains itself solely by works of faith and love. The ethic of Jesus expressed in the so-called Sermon on the Mount was given to disciples, not to nations. If the radical ethic of nonresistance were applied directly to nations, it would mean the end of all civil government… The principle of nonresistance or no retaliation can be a goal or ideal in the social arena, but never a political strategy of a nation” (Donald Bloesch, Freedom for Obedience, pp. 293).

Life for us is of incalculable value, and cannot be placed in a utilitarian calculus. God alone can ever do this since He sees life not merely as mortal (*penultimate*) but in association with eternity, which we cannot see clearly enough to adjudicate *ultimately*whatever God might do providentially through sinful humanity. Certainly we must not countenance constructing some sort of utilitarian ethic of war from the OT narratives.

“All these stories remind us that God’s commandment against killing protects life, but it does not enthrone life. It was given to preserve life, but not to idolize life. Life is something good, but it is not unconditionally sacred in the biblical perspective. Human life proceeds from God and is designed to give glory to God. Since it is a gift from God, life must be respected and may be taken only for the sake of life... (ibid, p. 207)

The worst brutalities and horrors in human history result from situations where the very survival of a people was at stake. The revulsions of war, and the horrors of survival when it hangs by the slimmest of threads are among the worst of the grim realities of life. Destruction of innocent women and children was a common feature of 20th century warfare, as most if not all centuries known to historians. It is not just “the other guys” who perpetrate such horrors. Not just Stalinist Russia, Maoist China, the Khmer Rouge, Islamist combatants or Nazi Germany, but also Britain under Winston Churchill, who after long siege by German bombing raids on English soil, made the decision to heavily bomb civilian cities in Germany where there were no military or industrial targets in the hope that the resulting horrors would create political pressure for Hitler to halt his own bombing campaigns, i.e. the decision to kill innocent men, women, infants and children without discrimination. Since the strategy did not work, these deaths were probably for nothing. Churchill also contemplated a large-scale assault on German civilians using poison gas. Napalm was used extensively where destruction of non-combatant peasant villages resulted in Vietnam. The bombs dropped at Hiroshima and Nagasaki were aimed at civilians as well. In this case many more lives were saved than lost, but it would take the utmost in callousness to claim that we are thereby absolved from the utter horrors that were committed there.

Num 31:54 describes Moses’ last military campaign (against the Midianites) continuing the account of chapter 25 of Israelite apostasy at Baal Peor, which very nearly led to the complete destruction of the Hebrew nation. It is easy for the modern reader to miss the very real mortal danger this situation presented to the survival of the other followers of Moses in the great desert wastes, men women and children, who were not a part of this apostasy. With a significant loss of their men, Moses’ people would likely never secure a homeland. The Midianites, unable to defeat Israel militarily, had conceived a plot to seduce many of her men through sexual temptation to abandon their God, thereby vitiating the source of their unity, strength, and mission. Without the hearts of her men, the rest of Israel would have soon become helpless in the desert, unable to survive, and unable to continue their mission. The Israelite men known to have partaken in this seductive idolatry were given the death penalty (Num 25:5). Idolatry aside, in a very real sense their actions consigned the lives of those who did not follow their path to certain failure, and serious mortal danger. Midian was placed under the ban as a result of that event (Num 25:17). So seductive were the enticements of the Peor that Israel is recorded still under their spell in Joshua’s day (Josh 22:17).

What I will not end my post with in this case is something to the effect of "I hope that helps..." -this is, I think, a dark and unfathomable mystery. But I will not speak against the God of the OT in the manner of the Marcionites and the Manicheans of old as I do not have a full enough picture to stand in judgment of God; it is rather He that must judge me.
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« Reply #8 on: October 25, 2011, 02:31:50 AM »

So can just we just consider this to be history of the Jewish people doing what they thought God wanted them to do?
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« Reply #9 on: October 25, 2011, 02:48:15 AM »

I think the problem that I face, and so do the atheists, is the fact that I am viewing the Old Testament through Christian morality, rather than taking it for what it is in it's time.

So can just we just consider this to be history of the Jewish people doing what they thought God wanted them to do?
And that's what I was about to end up on. Or rather God was working with primitive beings that needed some divine discipline. I have no problem with the later and I also have no problem with God doing whatever He can to make the Incarnation possible for our salvation.

The passage just seemed murky to me, as if there was some kind of underlying motive which ran contrary to God.

God killed all the first-born of Egypt.  If you're comfortable with that, there's no reason to be uncomfortable with this.
I was going to bring up the first born from Egypt but couldn't find the Bible verses from memory nor my piss poor Google searching. Yes that infanticide one doesn't bother me so much anymore after it was explained to me pretty well by Isa. In fact most of the atheists I come into contact with love to bring up that bit in the Bible as a refutation of God.

“All these stories remind us that God’s commandment against killing protects life, but it does not enthrone life. It was given to preserve life, but not to idolize life. Life is something good, but it is not unconditionally sacred in the biblical perspective. Human life proceeds from God and is designed to give glory to God. Since it is a gift from God, life must be respected and may be taken only for the sake of life... (ibid, p. 207)
Thanks xariskai for the well made post, I apology for my curt response as always; I don't have much to contribute, depth or word count wise, please forgive me. It's going to take some time for me to parse what you had to say and comprehend its fullness.

But this above quote is great. The preservation of life, the protection of it. But isn't life itself sacred in a sense though, are we not made in the image and likeness of God?

Quote
Num 31:54 describes Moses’ last military campaign (against the Midianites) continuing the account of chapter 25 of Israelite apostasy at Baal Peor, which very nearly led to the complete destruction of the Hebrew nation. It is easy for the modern reader to miss the very real mortal danger this situation presented to the survival of the other followers of Moses in the great desert wastes, men women and children, who were not a part of this apostasy. With a significant loss of their men, Moses’ people would likely never secure a homeland. The Midianites, unable to defeat Israel militarily, had conceived a plot to seduce many of her men through sexual temptation to abandon their God, thereby vitiating the source of their unity, strength, and mission. Without the hearts of her men, the rest of Israel would have soon become helpless in the desert, unable to survive, and unable to continue their mission. The Israelite men known to have partaken in this seductive idolatry were given the death penalty (Num 25:5). Idolatry aside, in a very real sense their actions consigned the lives of those who did not follow their path to certain failure, and serious mortal danger. Midian was placed under the ban as a result of that event (Num 25:17). So seductive were the enticements of the Peor that Israel is recorded still under their spell in Joshua’s day (Josh 22:17).
Thank you for this commentary, has put my mind to rest.

Quote
What I will not end my post with in this case is something to the effect of "I hope that helps..." -this is, I think, a dark and unfathomable mystery. But I will not speak against the God of the OT in the manner of the Marcionites and the Manicheans of old as I do not have a full enough picture to stand in judgment of God; it is rather He that must judge me.
I don't know how much I put into it as this is a dark and unfathomable mystery, perhaps it actually is but then again I go back into thinking the characters in the OT are precisely the instruments of God, all playing according to His will. God is quite the enigma in the OT, I would go as so far to say incomprehensible, stupifying, and somre respects bizarre. Like you said, and as God says to Job, it is God that is at the seat of judgment, who is the one to ask the questions that flatten out the questioner.
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« Reply #10 on: October 25, 2011, 01:05:39 PM »

This might seem like a crass thing to say, but I've been leaning towards it - as of late - as the proper interpretation of these passages.  God is the Life-Giver.  He is the rightful owner of all things.  It is through Him that all things are sustained.  Consequently, He has every right to take away from you and I our bodies, to take away our life. 

God does not need justification.  The Old Testament records God demanding and ordaining the death of countless persons.  You can't really deny this, and still hold any belief in revelation to the Hebrews.  This all, of course, doesn't even take into account the mass near-genocide of the human race, through the flood.  God ordered killing; God ordained killing; God killed.  He has every right to take from us all that we have, and we should all be grateful that even when God does "kill" a person or ordain or order such, He does not cease to give life and sustenance to the spirit of such persons.  They still live even when dead.
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« Reply #11 on: October 25, 2011, 01:19:00 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!


Num 31:54 describes Moses’ last military campaign (against the Midianites) continuing the account of chapter 25 of Israelite apostasy at Baal Peor, which very nearly led to the complete destruction of the Hebrew nation. It is easy for the modern reader to miss the very real mortal danger this situation presented to the survival of the other followers of Moses in the great desert wastes, men women and children, who were not a part of this apostasy.

Great point!

This is a point I also wanted to add earlier.  Aside from the allegorical implications of killing in the Old Testament referring to both the outer demons and the demons within humans, the Ethiopian fathers also specifically interpret a key aspect of the Old Testament to explain the miraculous biography of our Lord Jesus Christ through our Lady the Virgin Mary.  For example, I am currently reading in Jeremiah and Ezekiel where the Israelites were explicitly warned to go into captivity, and that remnant which remained in Palestine under the auspices of Egyptian protection would not be the spared remnant, rather the true remnant would be those who came out of Babylon.  The Ethiopian Fathers understand all of the Old Testament to be about the coming of the birth of Jesus Christ, if the Israelite family had disappeared, where would the Christ come?

 What Temple would He cleanse? In what Jerusalem would He be crucified and resurrected? So when we read of the "remnant" of Israel these are spared in God's Grace, through His interaction with human history, in order to preserve and perpetuate a particular dynasty and society which would culminate with the birth of Jesus Christ.  In this context, this Numbers passage is also crucial, because the entire Hebrew race risked destruction as a consequence of Sin.  Had this occurred, where would our Lady of come?  This is a crucial self-reflective moment, to take this passage both literally and allegorically then, in that it is literal that the ancestry of our Lord may have been annihilated (like the "retro-active abortion" plot of the Terminator series) and allegorical in that is is the consequence of Sin which brought about this risk to our very salvation!

stay blessed,
habte selassie
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« Reply #12 on: October 25, 2011, 01:54:46 PM »

This might seem like a crass thing to say, but I've been leaning towards it - as of late - as the proper interpretation of these passages.  God is the Life-Giver.  He is the rightful owner of all things.  It is through Him that all things are sustained.  Consequently, He has every right to take away from you and I our bodies, to take away our life. 

God does not need justification.  The Old Testament records God demanding and ordaining the death of countless persons.  You can't really deny this, and still hold any belief in revelation to the Hebrews.  This all, of course, doesn't even take into account the mass near-genocide of the human race, through the flood.  God ordered killing; God ordained killing; God killed.  He has every right to take from us all that we have, and we should all be grateful that even when God does "kill" a person or ordain or order such, He does not cease to give life and sustenance to the spirit of such persons.  They still live even when dead.

ya, i pretty much act like that stuff didn't happen...or allegorize it...
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« Reply #13 on: October 25, 2011, 03:10:29 PM »

This might seem like a crass thing to say, but I've been leaning towards it - as of late - as the proper interpretation of these passages.  God is the Life-Giver.  He is the rightful owner of all things.  It is through Him that all things are sustained.  Consequently, He has every right to take away from you and I our bodies, to take away our life. 

God does not need justification.  The Old Testament records God demanding and ordaining the death of countless persons.  You can't really deny this, and still hold any belief in revelation to the Hebrews.  This all, of course, doesn't even take into account the mass near-genocide of the human race, through the flood.  God ordered killing; God ordained killing; God killed.  He has every right to take from us all that we have, and we should all be grateful that even when God does "kill" a person or ordain or order such, He does not cease to give life and sustenance to the spirit of such persons.  They still live even when dead.

ya, i pretty much act like that stuff didn't happen...or allegorize it...

Since God doesn't change He couldn't make such decisions anyway . . .
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« Reply #14 on: October 25, 2011, 03:45:50 PM »

This might seem like a crass thing to say, but I've been leaning towards it - as of late - as the proper interpretation of these passages.  God is the Life-Giver.  He is the rightful owner of all things.  It is through Him that all things are sustained.  Consequently, He has every right to take away from you and I our bodies, to take away our life. 

God does not need justification.  The Old Testament records God demanding and ordaining the death of countless persons.  You can't really deny this, and still hold any belief in revelation to the Hebrews.  This all, of course, doesn't even take into account the mass near-genocide of the human race, through the flood.  God ordered killing; God ordained killing; God killed.  He has every right to take from us all that we have, and we should all be grateful that even when God does "kill" a person or ordain or order such, He does not cease to give life and sustenance to the spirit of such persons.  They still live even when dead.

ya, i pretty much act like that stuff didn't happen...or allegorize it...

Since God doesn't change He couldn't make such decisions anyway . . .

ya who knows...tis is why i stick mostly to psalms and wisdom literature in the OT...
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« Reply #15 on: October 25, 2011, 03:53:01 PM »

This might seem like a crass thing to say, but I've been leaning towards it - as of late - as the proper interpretation of these passages.  God is the Life-Giver.  He is the rightful owner of all things.  It is through Him that all things are sustained.  Consequently, He has every right to take away from you and I our bodies, to take away our life. 

God does not need justification.  The Old Testament records God demanding and ordaining the death of countless persons.  You can't really deny this, and still hold any belief in revelation to the Hebrews.  This all, of course, doesn't even take into account the mass near-genocide of the human race, through the flood.  God ordered killing; God ordained killing; God killed.  He has every right to take from us all that we have, and we should all be grateful that even when God does "kill" a person or ordain or order such, He does not cease to give life and sustenance to the spirit of such persons.  They still live even when dead.

ya, i pretty much act like that stuff didn't happen...or allegorize it...

Since God doesn't change He couldn't make such decisions anyway . . .

ya who knows...tis is why i stick mostly to psalms and wisdom literature in the OT...

it is why i stick with proclus ....the bible except the first couple of words in john always cause problems....
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« Reply #16 on: October 25, 2011, 03:56:13 PM »

Is it something really they've actually done?  Didn't Midianites continue to exist despite this story of widespread genocide?

I always thought these stories were there to emphasize the warrior God, and to teach the Israelites the fear and obedience of God.  It's why I lean towards pure allegory on this particular story.
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« Reply #17 on: October 25, 2011, 04:09:44 PM »

Since God doesn't change He couldn't make such decisions anyway...
Decision is perhaps an anthropomorphism. According to this fellow what God has done or does is what he has always done. Cf. also his book: http://undpress.nd.edu/book/P00461  It is interesting to see all the glowing reviews Weinandy has received listed in the previous link (including the last from St. Vladimir's Theological Quarterly) for revisiting this first millennium patristic thesis which has been almost entirely repudiated in Western theology since the 19th century.[1] Cf. also a brief review of the treatment by Dumitru Staniloae, The Experience of God (Brookline, Massachusetts: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 1998), 2 Vols here.
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“From the dawn of the Patristic period Christian theology has held as axiomatic that God is impassible—that is, He does not undergo emotional changes of state, and so cannot suffer. Toward the end of the nineteenth century a sea of change began to occur within Christian theology such that at present many, if not most, Christian theologians hold as axiomatic that God is passible, that He does undergo emotional changes of states, and so can suffer. Historically this change was inaugurated by such Anglican theologians as Andrew M. Fairbairn and Bertrand R. Brasnett. Within contemporary Protestant theology some of the better known theologians who espouse the passibility of God are Karl Barth, Richard Bauckham, John Cone, Paul Fiddes, Robert Jenson, Eberhard Jüngel, Kazoh Kitamori, Jung Young Lee, John Macquarrie, Jürgen Moltmann, Wolfhart Pannenberg, Richard Swinburne, Alan Torrance, Thomas F. Torrance, Keith Ward, and Nicholas Wolterstorff.”




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« Reply #18 on: October 25, 2011, 04:14:52 PM »

Ya I don't think God kills or commands killing. Thats not what the new testament teaches us about God.
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« Reply #19 on: October 25, 2011, 07:05:24 PM »

Is it something really they've actually done?  Didn't Midianites continue to exist despite this story of widespread genocide?

I always thought these stories were there to emphasize the warrior God, and to teach the Israelites the fear and obedience of God.  It's why I lean towards pure allegory on this particular story.

I took a course on the Old Testament a few years ago and I remember the professor pointing out similar narratives from other peoples, such as the Egyptians, where they claimed to completely exterminate their enemies in certain wars. More often than not it was hyperbole, for propaganda or other purposes.
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« Reply #20 on: October 25, 2011, 07:08:58 PM »

Is it something really they've actually done?  Didn't Midianites continue to exist despite this story of widespread genocide?

I always thought these stories were there to emphasize the warrior God, and to teach the Israelites the fear and obedience of God.  It's why I lean towards pure allegory on this particular story.

I took a course on the Old Testament a few years ago and I remember the professor pointing out similar narratives from other peoples, such as the Egyptians, where they claimed to completely exterminate their enemies in certain wars. More often than not it was hyperbole, for propaganda or other purposes.

Exactly...

The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob needed to stand out from other gods in the region as more powerful.  And what's more powerful than to show that His people is powerful enough to exterminate whole peoples.

It was a way to help primitive humanity believe in God at the time, the true God.  And it was a way for the people of Israel to put the fear of God in them.

I always thought the Old Testament peoples is like a human being in his infancy.  My grandmother would warn me don't leave the house or this Egyptian monster named "Goha" will eat me.  Or even worse, "You want me to tell your father what you did today?"  The fear of a father in a child was sometimes necessary to restrain him, and the fear of God also helped restrain the Israelites.

At the same time, the Holy Spirit doesn't leave inspiration behind, and one can always find allegory in them.

In the New Testament, God deals with us as equals, despite still being our Father.  He sent His Son, incarnate for us to receive the revelation of the perfection of salvation.  No more laws, but now the spirit of the law is upon us.
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« Reply #21 on: October 25, 2011, 07:31:40 PM »

Didn't Midianites continue to exist despite this story of widespread genocide?
Midianites are not listed among the seven separate peoples whose land Israel was mandated to occupy (i.e. Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites; cf. Deut 7:1; "biblical texts (e.g. Num 33:51; 34:2) refer to the territory occupied by the seven peoples as 'Canaan.' This usage is also found in some extrabiblical texts. For the Canaanites, Amorites, and Hittites, considerable extrabiblical evidence goes back many centuries before Israel's occupation of Canaan. For the Girgashites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites however the Bible is the only source" (E. Satterthwait and D. W. Baker, "Nations of Canaan" in T. Alexander and D. Baker, eds., Dictionary of the Pentateuch: A Compendium of Contemporary Scholarship (2003), pp. 596-604); Midianites are mentioned throughout the later OT as well; no text suggests a destruction of that group en toto. Israel was recorded as having been oppressed by Midian during the Judges period; also we recall Moses spent 40 years in Midian before the Exodus and married Ziporah, the daughter of Jethro/Reuel, a priest of Midian. Cf. further here.
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« Reply #22 on: October 25, 2011, 10:14:29 PM »

Ya I don't think God kills or commands killing. Thats not what the new testament teaches us about God.

But He did.  And Ananias and Sapphira were struck dead for their sacrilege. 
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« Reply #23 on: October 26, 2011, 12:00:11 AM »

Ya I don't think God kills or commands killing. Thats not what the new testament teaches us about God.

God doesn't kill?  What about Ananias and Sapphira?  What about the Ark of the Covenant?

God doesn't command killing?  What about the death sentences in the Old Testament.  God is a God of love; love does not always mean being nice.
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« Reply #24 on: October 26, 2011, 02:48:13 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

Ya I don't think God kills or commands killing. Thats not what the new testament teaches us about God.

God doesn't kill?  What about Ananias and Sapphira?  What about the Ark of the Covenant?

God doesn't command killing?  What about the death sentences in the Old Testament.  God is a God of love; love does not always mean being nice.

I think you have conflated certain of God's attributes. Surely God is indeed love, however God is also righteous.  God is ALWAYS right because righteousness is of  His nature.  However, it is His LOVE which pushes God, like ourselves, towards compassion and forgiveness, to overlook His own certain sense of rightness, and instead be a forgiving God.  In our own lives, it is the love of our hearts that moves us towards forgiving the wrongs of others even when we are sure that we are in the right.  It is precisely because they are wrong that out of love we are moved towards forgiveness!

These are fundamental issues within the Church for us Christians to resolve.  There are denominational Churches that are way to into the Old Testament in a literal sense, and there are Orthodox and Catholic parishes that are far to allegorical.  The truths lies square in the middle.  We acknowledge that these Old Testament narratives are actual history, and so we have to come to terms with this reality.  God commanded many people to kill, and commanded many people to be killed.  This theme saturates the Old Testament. However, I disagree with attempts to anachronize God as the Old Testament God and the New Testament God, as it is always the same One God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, cooperating in Unity, without Change.  So God is the same then, now, and forever.  Instead we need to fully accept that what happened in those times was part of an Old Covenant, and older history, the "old wine for old wineskins" where as we are in the realm of the New. 

We must use the Old to understand the New.  As I've mentioned before, these stories become allegorical as they become models and templates for us to apply into our own lives, our own contexts, our own situations.  What is the real overarching themes of stories like this one in Numbers? Dedication, faith, and commitment to God.  When God asks a person to kill another person, for any reason, this is an act of pure commitment.  God asks us in the New Covenant for an equal, and altogether more impossible commitment, to forgive and love ALL!  Whereas before God asked us to be so committed to Him that we would kill for His Laws, for His ideals, for His commandments, and yet through the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh we understand that "let he who is without Sin cast the first stone.."  We must be even more so committed to God in the opposite direction, we must NOT kill even when justified, we must forgive even when it seems impossible.  While the sins of Israel were not to be dedicated enough to God to kill folks for Him, since the advent of the Church-age, our commitment has been how much will chose NOT to kill for Him? The same underlying theme is prevalent in both instances, that we are committed to God as the First and Holy Commandment states,

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Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. 
Matthew 22 KJV

Personally, I found this quote from a Watchtower Awake publication I found on the bus yesterday and I thought it quite insightful and relevant to our discussion here.

Quote
1) Ancient Israel was a nation with God-given geographic borcers, and it was surrounded by neighbors who were often hostile.  Therefore God commanded His people to protect their land, even giving them victories over their enemies.  Christian congregations, on the other hand, have no borders, and its members can be found in all lands [i.e. universal].  So if Christ's followers in one country were to join in warfare against another country, they would be fighting against fellow believers, their spiritual brothers and sisters, whom they are commanded to love and die for.
2)Ancient Israel had a human king whose throne was in Jerusalem.  True Christians, however, are ruled by Jesus Christ, whose throne is in Heaven.
3)Ancient Israel, like other nations, often sent out messengers, or what today we might call ambassadors or envoys.  Christ has done the same, but with two key differences.  First, ALL his followers serve as ambassadors or envoys.  Second, Jesus' followers speak to ALL who will listen to the message..
Awake August 2011

It is because our Church is ONE, HOLY, CATHOLIC, and APOSTOLIC, that we are unified and should be peaceful, are holy and should let God do our fighting for us, are Catholic and therefore the Church of the entire Universe, and Apostolic in the sense that we continue the ambassadorship of Christ which was commissioned to His Apostles and subsequently by the laying of hands to ourselves.  This is why there is really no such thing as a "just war" and further why there are differences between the way in which God revealed Himself in the Old Covenant and the way in which God reveals Himself through the New.

stay blessed,
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« Reply #25 on: October 26, 2011, 07:54:13 PM »

Ya I don't think God kills or commands killing. Thats not what the new testament teaches us about God.

But He did.  And Ananias and Sapphira were struck dead for their sacrilege. 

I prefer to think they fell away from the protection of grace...
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« Reply #26 on: October 26, 2011, 10:09:17 PM »

Ya I don't think God kills or commands killing. Thats not what the new testament teaches us about God.

But He did.  And Ananias and Sapphira were struck dead for their sacrilege. 

I prefer to think they fell away from the protection of grace...

From what I understand, they were prominent members of the Church, entrusted with finances for the Church.  Since they are prominent members, the judgment is stricter, and thus just like the Archangel Lucifer who was struck down like lightning, so were Anania and Sapphira, struck with death in the primitive and extremely important service of the Church.
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« Reply #27 on: October 26, 2011, 10:24:32 PM »

Ya I don't think God kills or commands killing. Thats not what the new testament teaches us about God.

But He did.  And Ananias and Sapphira were struck dead for their sacrilege.  

I prefer to think they fell away from the protection of grace...

From what I understand, they were prominent members of the Church, entrusted with finances for the Church.  Since they are prominent members, the judgment is stricter, and thus just like the Archangel Lucifer who was struck down like lightning, so were Anania and Sapphira, struck with death in the primitive and extremely important service of the Church.

This makes me glad that I am not:

a.) Prominent
b.) Ever going to be trusted with anyone's finances much less the Church's
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« Reply #28 on: October 27, 2011, 01:07:07 AM »

Ya I don't think God kills or commands killing. Thats not what the new testament teaches us about God.

But He did.  And Ananias and Sapphira were struck dead for their sacrilege.  

I prefer to think they fell away from the protection of grace...

From what I understand, they were prominent members of the Church, entrusted with finances for the Church.  Since they are prominent members, the judgment is stricter, and thus just like the Archangel Lucifer who was struck down like lightning, so were Anania and Sapphira, struck with death in the primitive and extremely important service of the Church.

This makes me glad that I am not:

a.) Prominent
b.) Ever going to be trusted with anyone's finances much less the Church's

lol same goes for me
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« Reply #29 on: October 29, 2011, 12:06:34 PM »

Fr. Barron (Roman Catholic) talks about this issue quite clearly.
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