The Sacrifice of the Canaanites

When a grim post at a downstairs blog such as mine gets hits from the ironically-named upstairs blog “What’s Wrong with the World”[1], I wonder if, in some small way, it is not a bit less wrong now than it was the day before.

If you follow the link to the comment and from there back the the original post, you’ll find another link to the actual argument under discussion. She writes:

I have no solution to the slaughter of the Canaanites. It’s that simple. I don’t know. As far as I can tell, the text of Old Testament Scripture indicates that God ordered the Israelites to kill children down to and including infants, and this is a problem. (Women as well, but at least one can conjecture that maybe all of the people from the age of reason on up had committed crimes worthy of death. Not the babies, though.) Prima facie, this is in direct conflict with the commandment to do no murder. Any attempt to answer the problem by saying that original sin means that no one is really innocent proves far too much, for it removes the rationale for regarding the killing of infants generally as murder.

There is no particular textual reason to take the problem passages to have been added later. It helps a little bit if one is not a strict inerrantist. But even then, what one is left with, at most, is something like, “Maybe God didn’t really order that, but my only reason for thinking that is that, as far as I can tell, it is completely incompatible with divine goodness. I’ll hope to have this clarified when I get to heaven.” One piece of good news, as far as it goes, is that there is nothing about the slaughter of the Canaanite children that is theologically necessary to the truth of Christianity. Unlike, say, the historical existence of Adam, the killing of Canaanite children is not woven into the warp and woof of Christian theology, doctrine, or ethics. Very much to the contrary.

And then she writes a whole bunch more that you don’t have to read because I’ve already quoted authoress McGrew sending herself astray…which I’ll come back to.

Let me state right away that the text is clear: The slaughter of the Canaanites was commanded by God. It’s not a translation issue. It’s not a euphemism. It’s not a parable. It’s not a myth. It is history, and the command to slaughter gentile (and Israelite) infants, children, and women is encountered multiple times in the OT testament. Here is the command from God; when the Israelites are instructed in how to conquer Canaan.

10 “When you draw near to a city to fight against it, offer terms of peace to it. 11 And if it responds to you peaceably and it opens to you, then all the people who are found in it shall do forced labor for you and shall serve you. 12 But if it makes no peace with you, but makes war against you, then you shall besiege it. 13 And when the Lord your God gives it into your hand, you shall put all its males to the sword, 14 but the women and the little ones, the livestock, and everything else in the city, all its spoil, you shall take as plunder for yourselves. And you shall enjoy the spoil of your enemies, which the Lordyour God has given you. 15 Thus you shall do to all the cities that are very far from you, which are not cities of the nations here. 16 But in the cities of these peoples that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance, you shall save alive nothing that breathes, 17 but you shall devote them to complete destruction, the Hittites and the Amorites, the Canaanites and the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites, as the Lord your God has commanded, 18 that they may not teach you to do according to all their abominable practices that they have done for their gods, and so you sin against the Lord your God.

“Devote them to destruction”; as in “sacrifice them”. This passage has the context of an offering about it. The “Slaughter of the Canaanites” is a holy endeavor to its core, and in all its facets. It is a direct command from God. It cleanses the land of abominations. It preserves the Israelites from abomination. It performs the spiritual alchemy of turning abominable meat into a pure sacrifice worthy of the Most High God and gives even them a place to honor Him. It is also an opportunity for the Israelites to participate in God’s plan, and share in His holiness. I think even referring to is as the “Slaughter of the Canaanites” is a slander. I call it the Sacrifice of the Canaanites.

And it requires the shedding of innocent blood.

Children, especially infants, are innocent. However; they are not perfect. They are not sinless. They are not selfless, or even aware of others. They are not worthy and they have no worthy works. Innocent means they are not accountable; not that they do not offend, or that they are good. They are also signs of innocence, and that important for us and for our instruction.

It is upon this last that McGrew’s consternation turns. She thinks that if she knows anything, then she knows that infants are innocent. Alongside that, she thinks she knows that killing innocents is murder and always wrong; unless it is God himself actually doing the killing.[2] Lydia McGrew is wrong, and what follows is how we know she wrong.

She wrote:

One piece of good news, as far as it goes, is that there is nothing about the slaughter of the Canaanite children that is theologically necessary to the truth of Christianity. Unlike, say, the historical existence of Adam, the killing of Canaanite children is not woven into the warp and woof of Christian theology, doctrine, or ethics. Very much to the contrary.

It is bad to punish innocents, but punishment is not what God commanded. He commanded they be sacrificed. We’ll see this again later when the Lord of Hosts sends His only begotten Son to live as Himself and as us, and explicitly to be sacrificed to satisfy His own holiness, and for us and our salvation.

“Yes, but they were babies–“

Let me explain that you should shut up. Jesus is more than innocent. He is the Christ who chose to take on mere flesh. He is the only begotten Son of God. Unlike an untested infant, Jesus was tested in the refiner’s fire and found flawless, and a worker of many and marvelous good works; perfect as His Father in Heaven is perfect.  He is unique, flawless, utterly selfless, and very God of very God.

Did you ever wonder what it might be like to think about that? To not only think, but prepare the world for it? Since at least Adam, God has been planning  and moving to send His Son to be sacrificed to reconcile an adulterous people…humiliatingly, naked, painfully, on a cross, by Gentiles at the request of His own flesh and blood because they were cowards. That is INFINITELY more strange, startling, and inexplicable than the Sacrifice of the Canaanites by the Israelites.

Fretting over children sacrificed to a just and holy God who is the Lord of life is a mental walk in the park by comparison. Those who cannot see that have made idols of the flesh and their own wooden theologies, doctrines, ethics. That is to say: They’ve made idols of themselves, and that is very easy for us to do.

It gets back to the eye being the lamp of the whole body, and if our eye is dark (say, by being blasé about the mystery of the death and resurrection of Christ) then the darkness in our body will be great. We will stupidly disconnect Him from other stories of sacrificed innocents, and from ourselves who are made innocent by His sacrifice, yet still die.

26 “So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. 27 What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. 28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.30 But even the hairs of your head are all numbered.31 Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. 32 So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, 33 but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.

34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36 And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. 37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

Weren’t they family; the descendants of Noah who alone survived God’s extinction of all other human life? Are innocents not valuable that God would abandon them in death? Isn’t taking up your cross doing what is distasteful and painful to follow God? Was Jesus not deadly serious (even when not literal) when He spoke of a sword? This is the lamp that should light your eyes.

There’s a lot more to say on the topic. I haven’t even touched on God having a soft-spot for those who intercede but which the Jews consistently refused to do, or the real reasons the Israelites balked at killing, or why they didn’t balk when they did kill, or why the prohibition against murder is more about the murderer being separated from God than the murdered being separated from life…lots of stuff.

[1]By the bye: The answer is “us”.

[2]Without getting too derailed: Suffice it to say that this is a foolish train of thought headed for God is Unjust station, and carrying murderous angels as passengers; among others.

They Want Differently: A Primer on Women’s Sin and Genius

It is well-known–at least among the blogs and commenters I read–that men and women want different things from the other. For example: Women tend to prioritize a man’s material resources, while men tend to prioritize a woman’s beauty. A man won’t care much about a woman’s resources, and women are less concerned with a man’s physique than the clothes and baubles upon it.

So far so good.

In line with this, these blogs and commenters recognize that one of the mistakes a man makes is thinking a women will like the same things men do, and thus will respond positively to the same behavior that he would prefer to receive. Men like respect, so the errant man breaks out the deference routine. He sits through the stupid rom-com; buys what she likes; lets her choose the restaurant; etc.

Still so far so good.

Further we go, and some of the same blogs and commenters will say that women make the same mistake. That–because women like authority and power–their headstrong and challenging behavior is a tactical blunder of the sort made by the man who unholsters deference to shoot himself in the foot.

This is wrong. Men and women are even more different than that. Women are headstrong and challenging because they want what they want and they don’t give a damn about the whys and whatfors. In the female soul desire is mainlined. They want differently than we men do. The typical desire of a typical man is weighed thus: “Can I get the goods without getting in trouble?” A woman says to herself, “How do I get the goods without getting in trouble?” While the difference in words is subtle to the ear; the meanings are widely separated. The thought of doing without is a secondary consideration at best. That’s just in the nature of a woman, and why they need a leader.

Now, try and imagine successive generations of women; each raised on more and more skewed diet of unmerited praise and affirmation, but without hearing “No” and without consequences. If you can’t imagine it, then go to the mall, or the office, or the DMV and open your bloody eyes.

So A power-play by a woman is not a misguided come-on. It’s a power-play. There could be a come-on mixed in, but the attempt at control is for its own sake; simply because she is driven to strive to be in control. The come-on (if there) is for him, but the power-play is for power.

Women who don’t want to be in control are a figment of the imagination. It’s their sin nature. The marriageable ones are those women who struggle against it. The honorable women are those who redirect their desires, and only ask themselves “How do I get The Good?”

You Can Win Both

In the comments of Dalrock’s post “Five Years of Keeping Her Happy Proves David Swindle is a Better Man Than You”, commenter Jeff asks a question. The eminent host quotes and responds:


Question again,

I have NOT done dread on my wife. However, I have started chuckling when she wants to argue something mundane, and when we do have a heated discussion and she concedes and says ” you’re right”, I will say “I know I am”. She has seen acting like an abused wife.

I have read how this is a feminist tactic to get husbands to submit. BUT I haven’t read how to deal with this, you know the down turned mouth and puppy eyes with the shoulders drooped looking down.

Do I ignore this?

Others have suggested ignoring it, and I don’t think that is bad advice. Much of this is a matter of style/taste. If I imagine my wife doing the same my own instinct would be something playful which sets a new frame. I might start walking past her with a mock serious look on my face, and then all of a sudden pull her into my arms from behind while laughing and kiss her on the neck. If you can imagine doing that with your wife as something fun/loving, then it would probably work well. Another possibility would be to suddenly take her hand and whisper conspiratorially; I just remembered! You have to see this incredible thing in the kitchen/living room/wherever (a room you aren’t in which is on the same floor)! Take her hand and urgently lead her into the other room, then pull her into you and declare “us!”. This is pretty goofy stuff, and may not be right for you. But it matches with the goofiness of the mock puppy dog look, and also resets the frame.

I’d be interested in Cane Caldo’s approach to the same question as well.

I agree very much that this is a matter of style and taste. Let us hasten to add that (as in anything) all styles and tastes are not equal, and some are better than others.

Jeff’s “I know I am” retort is acceptable in a repertoire for playful banter arguments, but will ultimately backfire on him in earnest arguments. She will be enforced in her notion that winning the argument, or simply being right, is the key to headship. I say enforced because women have this belief already. They are born with it, I think; or susceptible to it. Be assured: The next time she is right (whether Jeff is wrong or not), or Jeff is wrong (whether she is right or not) she will have the bit in her teeth, and Jeff will have a very smug mare on his hands. Dalrock’s suggestions are good for potentially disarming this wifely trapwork, but it would be better to not tempt her to set it. As Dalrock suggests: Just letting her stew in her admission that Jeff is right, is the better way to go. Stewing tough meat is a time-honored way of rendering it consumable.

Another response I favor is, “Then aren’t you lucky to be my wife.”, swiftly followed by a slap on her ass, and a kiss on the cheek.[1] This will communicate several things. I’m going to list them, but don’t let the reader be absorbed by the order in which they are listed.

  1. Her admission is heard and acknowledged. They’ll be no pretending by her later that she never said it. Women who are in a power struggle are often tempted to lie about such things if they don’t believe you paid attention. In their minds, if you didn’t pay attention, it didn’t count, and lying about things that don’t count is just like not lying. It’s not telling the truth, but it’s not lying lying. This is my experience.
  2. It communicates that your goodness (in this case, being right) benefits them both; that’s it’s not a tug of war. Right within a marriage is not a zero-sum game when the husband wins the wife loses. If the head of the family body wins, then the whole body is in order. Psalm 133 says: Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes! It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion! For there the Lord has commanded the blessing, life forevermore.” The image is of a priest being anointed, and that anointing oil flowing down from his head to his beard and down onto torso; anointing the whole body, and mountain rains that fill the rivers and make them flow into the valley below. Husbands and fathers are the priests and mountaintops of the family.
  3. The butt-slap communicates intimacy, and that you will not let an argument get in the way of enjoying the privileges of a husband just because she has (or is threatening) a bad mood. Providentially, it demonstrates both of those from a superior position. Her bad mood doesn’t get to dictate a bad mood from you, and she doesn’t get to dissuade you from wanting to tap that ass; as is a husband’s right.
  4. Life will go on, and an argument resolved no longer matters. The argument hasn’t consumed you even if it has her. And if it has, then this approach is a good way to toss it aside. As you should, because life really does go on, and you really do have better things to do than gloat to yourself about how you finally won an argument with a woman. Save that for your prayer time and thank God for your wife’s display of wisdom.
  5. You have left her an opening to be happy about the outcome of her husband being right instead of an occasion to her to reflect on “poor ol’ me”. Said more powerfully: You’ve created an expectation that she be happy about it, and that such repentance in an argument will not be the beginning of more reprobation from him. Wives greatly fear admitting their husbands are right will lead to an adult and never-ending version of “nanna-nanna-boo-boo”. They fear it because that’s what they would do.[2]  Happy wives are easier to sex up. Sexed-up wives are happier. (One sees how these things work together.)

The great upshot is: All those things are true. It’s not manipulation. It’s not merely changing the frame or perspective. Even if Jeff has to try at it, he’s not faking, but putting into practice these truths about the dynamics of marriage.

I hope that helps.

[1]If you’re uncomfortable with this, or fear her response: Then do it really fast before she can respond.

[2] Jeff, unfortunately, founded his wife’s fears in the short-term; though husbands are usually not given to carrying on about it. Regardless: Don’t do that.

Resettlement Chronicles VII: Properly Couched

Well, that didn’t go as I planned. The Internet was piped in, and I stopped posting; which I wasn’t supposed to be doing until I had Internet access because I don’t like to post from my phone. Turns out I don’t like posting from my phone when I have Internet service.

When we moved, we left behind two huge, beastly love seats. We hated them for years, and I was durned if I was going to move them into a truck, and then into a house where I would just hate on them some more. That left us as domesticates who were not properly couched into our new domicile. So, I built one out of some 2-bys and 1/4″ plywood. I don’t like the noise of power tools, so it took me two days with my saws and hand planes. What lovely sound the plane makes as it peels of a 1/1000 of an inch of wood: Shhhhhhhhhht! And it feels like glass if you’ve properly sharpened the iron. The wood is so smooth that you have to sand it to make it rough enough to take a finish.

The couch is not finished yet. The batting, foam, and upholstery still needs to be permanently applied. That will have to wait until I return. (Obviously I’m posting because I’m not at home with Internet access.) But the carcass is finished, and we have the foam laid on top, so it is in use as we speak. I like to build things. It’s so much more peaceful than managing people.

Resettlement Chronicles VI: Timing Flies When You’re Having Fun

Author’s Note: Comment moderation is turned back off as while we remain dead to the city, we are yet now alive to the web.

Town living has awakened in me a bloodlust for bugs that is neither slaked by time, nor lessened by distance. Legions of flies have been crumpled by my deceptively light and cheery glamdring , and legions more writhe upon pasted strips. In the evening and under the eaves, with a lance of poisoned liquid I smote down two wasps’ nests ruins upon the ground.

At the second engagement, one foolhardy wasp  dared to meet me in single combat. Blinded by rage and Spectracide Wasp and Hornet Killer, he charged me. So fierce was his flight and so great his confidence that he foreswore his own lance and we literally went head to head. Piercing my windmilling arms of defense, he slipped under the bill of my Boston Red Sox helm, and rammed himself face first into my forehead. Upon impact, I let loose the warmaiden’s cry and pummeled myself in the face; dislodging both my headgear and my pride in the process.

But that bug is deader’n a doorknob now.

Resettlement Chronicles V: Dark and Bitter, Like My Women

We did, in fact, double the congregation of the little church we shall be attending. They meet in the fellowship building prior to services, and we chatted with the half dozen septuagenarians and octogenarians for a bit before church. I’ve never been offered coffee so many times in fifteen minutes. Finally I relented, and followed an old fellow into the kitchen.

“How do you take it?”, he asked.

“Black as you can, sir.”

“Now that’s the only way.”, he approved.

As I mentioned there is no choir. The CD started and the father began singing the processional hymn, “America the Beautiful”. The old folks let him ride solo until we Caldos joined.

Tina, my oldest, can really belt them out. That’s why we moved here. So she let ‘em have it good and strong; a hymn like hot black coffee in the morning. Then the old folks approved, and joined us.

Resettlement Chronicles IV: The Old Made New

The other day I wrote about hearing a train. There have only been 4 so far, and only one at night. Even better: The siren score currently sits at zero. Trains are a mighty fine change of pace.

We’re attending a new church tomorrow. I hear we six shall nearly double their congregation. There is no choir, nor organ. I shall miss them.

By a stroke of providence it is pastored by a former curate of our last church. We liked him very much, and were encouraged by his presence here to make the move. It has been at least four years since we last saw him, and at that time had no intention of ever being within his parish. In fact we meant to be move the other direction. We have mused that he was sent to blaze our path.

Resettlement Chronicles III: I The Relative Importance of Time and Space

Last night we stood out in the street in front of our house and watched the fireworks. Our street is directly in line with the “city” park where this town held its Fourth of July festivities. I suppose town park sounds strange, but city is a strange descriptor for where we live now.

One thing that I’ve discovered is that I do have a natural sleeping pattern: Sleep at midnight and awake at 6:30am. Internet access has obscured this fact for years.

I had come to believe that I had two modes of rest because when I’m on the road for work I’m usually in bed by 10pm, and then up by 5am. At home though, my sleep has always been erratic; bed at 2:30am up at 8am; bed at 3:00am up at 7am; bed at 11pm up at 6:30am…nothing like a pattern.

I had convinced myself that I needed time to unwind after the kids and wife went to bed, and I think that was true years ago; truer anyway. My family stressed me out with an perpetually discontent wife and kids…

Kids are idiots. They’re beautiful and amazing blah, blah, blah. They’re also inconsiderate fools who contribute nothing and want everything. And those are the good ones. If you ignore this truth about children then you’ll miss out on some important lessons about yourself and others, the nature of reaping and sowing, the mystery of the how and when of the joys of work, and the fullness of love and responsibility.

In other words: If at all possible you should homeschool your children. And watch your Internet usage.

Resettlement Chronicles II: Between Crickets and AC

Author’s note: Comments are still set to moderation, but I can spit them through easier than I believed with the WordPress app.

One of the new joys here is a front porch with a swing. Last house didn’t have a porch. Can’t have a porch swing without one of those.

The neighbor came out to meet us last night. I was surprised because his house looks like hell. In fact I thought he didn’t actually live there; a forgotten fixer-upper. Crappy houses usually hold crappy neighbors, or none. But he’s a tradesman; young, fit, bearded, and tattoo’d. His clean-cut but tousled hair and smirking eyes are exactly the worrisome sort to hire as a poolboy. I liked him.

He came out with his son and introduced himself. We shook hands and then he went to go get the rest of his family; a wife and two more girls. I did likewise. He said, “You want to see the inside? I’ve been working on it.”

Beautiful. The floors and ceilings were wood. Walls had been knocked down and more rooms added. The kitchen is monstrous, and the stove is in an island over which a stainless steel hood hovers. He had $50,000 in granite counters, island, trim, and windowsills that he’d got in trade for some work he’d done. He said he’d been working on it for three years. Along the way he’d sold his truck and his band equipment to help pay for it all. He’s the rock’n’roll hunky handyman proto- millionaire, and a pleasant neighbor.

Last night Mrs. Caldo and I were watching a movie on that ancient tech: DVD. We had paused it, and I was in the kitchen. Suddenly I heard a loud, strange noise, and I thought she had started Lethal Weapon back up.

“Hey!” I yelled. She walked in. She replied in staccato.

“No. Way.”

I went outside, lit a cigarette and sat on the swing. I could hear the rumbling of the cars in between the blasts of train’s warning.

Resettlement Chronicles I: Away for Awhile

We moved today and my Internet service won’t be installed until next Monday. I don’t like my phone enough to post and moderate from it so I’ve set comments to moderation until I’m alive in the web again.

It’s dark here, and I just killed a mosquito a half- inch in length; not including the syphon.


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