Why Jehovah Evicted Both Canaanites and Israelites
ONE man said, “I love to criticize others—it makes me feel so good.” With such an attitude, how superior must those feel who love to criticize Jehovah God! Higher critics frequently label Jehovah a bloodthirsty tribal god of the Jews. One clergyman denounced him as a dirty bully. To justify such name-calling, presumptuous critics cite Jehovah’s ousting of the Canaanites from their land in order to give it to the Jews.
Such a charge reflects gross ignorance. Moses, as Jehovah’s spokesman, made God’s reason clear to the Jews: “It is not for your righteousness or for the uprightness of your heart that you are going in to take possession of their land; in fact, it is for the wickedness of these nations that Jehovah your God is driving them away from before you.”—Deuteronomy 9:5.
It was the wickedness of the Canaanites that got them ousted. After identifying Baal as their principal god and Ashtoreth, his wife, as their principal goddess, Halley’s Bible Handbook, revised edition, says: “Temples of Baal and Ashtoreth were usually together. Priestesses were temple prostitutes. Sodomites were male temple prostitutes. The worship of Baal, Ashtoreth, and other Canaanite gods consisted of the most extravagant orgies; their temples were centers of vice.”—Page 166.
In the debris of one of these “high places” of Canaanite times, archaeologists “found great numbers of jars containing the remains of children who had been sacrificed to Baal. The whole area proved to be a cemetery for new-born babes.” Also found were “enormous quantities of images and plaques of Ashtoreth with rudely exaggerated sex organs, designed to foster sensual feelings. So, Canaanites worshiped, by immoral indulgence, as a religious rite, in the presence of their gods; and then, by murdering their first-born children, as a sacrifice to these same gods.”—Pages 166, 167.
Halley’s then asks: “Do we wonder any longer why God commanded Israel to exterminate the Canaanites? Did a civilization of such abominable filth and brutality have any right longer to exist? . . . Archaeologists who dig in the ruins of Canaanite cities wonder that God did not destroy them sooner than He did.”—Page 167.
The Emphasized Bible, a translation by J. B. Rotherham, says on page 259: “Who shall say that the Most High has not the right to extinguish such polluters of the earth and contaminators of mankind as these?”
Jehovah told Israel why the Canaanites were being thrown out: “Do not make yourselves unclean by any of these things, because by all these things the nations whom I am sending out from before you have made themselves unclean. Consequently the land is unclean, and I shall bring punishment for its error upon it, and the land will vomit its inhabitants out.” He then gave blunt warning to Israel: “And you people must keep all my statutes and all my judicial decisions and do them, that the land to which I am bringing you to dwell in it may not vomit you out.”—Leviticus 18:24-26; 20:22.
The message is clear. The Canaanites were removed because they polluted the land by their gross immorality—their adultery, their homosexuality, and their shedding of the blood of babies. If Israel copies this Canaanite religion of Baal worship, it will also be cast out.
And Israel did copy it. In strata laid down during Israel’s occupation of the land, archaeologists dug in the ruins of a temple of Ashtoreth, and “just a few steps from this temple was a cemetery, where many jars were found, containing remains of infants who had been sacrificed in this temple. . . . Prophets of Baal and Ashtoreth were official murderers of little children.”—Halley’s Bible Handbook, page 198.
Jehovah’s law given through Moses explicitly forbade such sexual perversions. Leviticus 20:13 stated: “And when a man lies down with a male the same as one lies down with a woman, both of them have done a detestable thing. They should be put to death without fail.”
The Mosaic Law also said, at Deuteronomy 23:17, 18: “None of the daughters of Israel may become a temple prostitute, neither may anyone of the sons of Israel become a temple prostitute. You must not bring the hire of a harlot or the price of a dog [New World Translation Reference Bible, footnote: “Likely a pederast; one who practices anal intercourse, especially with a boy.”] into the house of Jehovah your God for any vow, because they are something detestable to Jehovah your God, even both of them.”
Jehovah sent the prophets to warn Israel: “And Jehovah sent to you all his servants the prophets, rising up early and sending them, but you did not listen.” (Jeremiah 25:4) Instead, Israel “kept building for themselves high places and sacred pillars and sacred poles upon every high hill and under every luxuriant tree. And even the male temple prostitute [New World Translation Reference Bible, footnote, “effeminate men”] proved to be in the land. They acted according to all the detestable things of the nations whom Jehovah had driven out from before the sons of Israel.”—1 Kings 14:23, 24.
The prophet Isaiah warned them: “On a high and lofty mountain you have set up your bed; and thither have you climbed to offer sacrifice. Behind the door and the side posts you have set up your phallic symbol [sex-organ image]; and apart from me have you stripped and gone up, you have distended your parts; you have bargained for those whose embraces you love; and with them have you multiplied your harlotries, while gazing on the phallus [male organ].”—Isaiah 57:7, 8, An American Translation.
Women made images of sex organs and had relations with them, as we read: “Didst make thee images of the male, and didst act unchastely with them.” (Ezekiel 16:17, Rotherham) Or as An American Translation says: “With which you played the harlot.”
The Israelites mixed true and false worship. At Mount Sinai they worshiped the golden calf and committed sexual immorality and at the same time held what was called “a festival to Jehovah.” (Exodus 32:5, 6) Centuries later, they were still mixing the false with the true. The prophet Elijah denounced them for it, saying: “‘How long will you be limping upon two different opinions? If Jehovah is the true God, go following him; but if Baal is, go following him.’ And the people did not say a word in answer to him.” (1 Kings 18:21) After Manasseh reformed, he removed the foreign gods and offered communion and thanksgiving sacrifices to Jehovah. However, as 2 Chronicles 33:17 says, “the people were still sacrificing upon the high places; only it was to Jehovah their God.”
For centuries Israel contaminated Jehovah’s true worship with Baalism, violating the principle the apostle Paul later put in question form: “What agreement does God’s temple have with idols?” (2 Corinthians 6:16) So it was that in 740 B.C.E. the ten-tribe kingdom of Israel was carried away captive by the Assyrians, and in 607 B.C.E. the two-tribe kingdom of Judah was taken captive by the Babylonians. Both nations had polluted the land as the Canaanites had done, and both nations were vomited out of the land as the Canaanites had been.
What about the nations today? Are their churches contaminated with immorality? Are they polluting the land? Will they also be vomited out of the land?
[Blurb on page 6]
“Prophets of Baal and Ashtoreth were official murderers of little children”
[Picture on page 5]
Jar burial of infant remains
Lawrence E. Stager/Oriental Institute, University of Chicago