they are not just fight who they feel like. Fighting and death is
God's Instructions : Drive out or Destroy?
The popular idea that God instructed
Israel to completely destroy the Canaanites is largely untrue, with
His intent being to drive them out rather than destroy them.
are two primary goals, we noted previously, in what follows:
deal with the Canaanites in the Land – to remove their pagan practices
get Israel into the Land for it to become their new home – and theirs
as a unique people of God, revealing Him to the rest of the world.
Drive Out or to Destroy
focus of critics tends to be on how God intended Israel to bring about
these two goals and, contrary to most people's understanding, there
are in fact TWO sets of references given. We will save time and space
by referring you to the Appendix to this chapter and the conclusions
found there. To summarise, with:
references to the Canaanites being DRIVEN OUT
4 references to them being DESTROYED and 4 to them being WIPED OUT
the overwhelming evidence shows the divine intent
was for the inhabitants to be removed from the Land, which could have
been bloodless and it was only their intransigence that meant that
battles occurred with people being killed. (We will look later at
why the ‘destroy' references' and the reality of them)
or Statement of Intent
the most bizarre thing about this judgment, certainly in the light
of so much commonly mistaken public perception, is that despite all
these references to driving out the Canaanites, there are hardly any
commands or instructions for Israel to either drive them out or destroy
you look in the details of the Appendix to this chapter you will see
reference in Exodus
and Leviticus is a ‘statement of intent' by the
Lord – and these are all before the 40 year waiting period. There
are NO commands.
Numbers there is 1 instruction to drive them out
and 1 warning of what will happen if they don't – that is the full
extent of references in Numbers to taking the Land – and this is
given immediately before they go in (and after the 40 years waiting
is only in Deuteronomy that we find a complex
be assured today that the LORD your God is the one who goes across
ahead of you like a devouring fire. He will destroy
them; he will subdue them before
you. And you will drive them out and
annihilate them quickly, as the LORD has
is impossible to separate the Lord's activity from Israel 's activity
there is not so much a command here as a statement of what will
happen, a fulfillment of the Lord's promise to them.
to do the Main Driving Out
ensure clarity, understand the references come again and again emphasising
the Lord driving out the
nations before Israel: Ex 23:28, 23:29, 23:30, 33:2, 34:11, 34: 24,
Lev 18:24, 20:23, Deut 7:22, 9:4,5, 11:23, 18:12, Josh 3:10.
at least fourteen times in these early verses the Lord says that
He will drive out the occupants of the land.
All told, as we noted above, there are thirty one references
using the words ‘drive', ‘drives' or ‘driven' in respect
of what is to happen to the occupants of Canaan in the books of
Exodus through to Joshua.
Death was not the key issue. If they had responded they would simply
have left the land – and lived!
Death follows only because they refuse to go and are therefore a
stumbling block to the Lord's plan to reveal Himself to the world
through this holy nation in this land .
Although the vast majority of the references are to the Lord driving
out the inhabitants – and we will lock at this more fully in the
next chapter – we may suggest that in reality the Lord was to use
Israel to drive out the inhabitants.
the whole issue of this judgment is so complex, as we saw in 19.1
we have sought to take apart the whole story of the judgment of Canaan,
which is referred to in all five books of the Pentateuch as well as
in Joshua, and consider it in subject parts.
we have so far considered
Origins and Background to this judgment
each of the books mentioned above refer to the judgment
actually took place
Israel 's activity, immediately before entering the Land, contributed
Gods Instructions were to Drive Out or Destroy or both
the chapter 20 that follows we will consider
How God said He would drive them out
His Reasons for wanting them out
Taking Possession Gradually
The Hardening of the Canaanites
An Alternative Option
The Incomplete Expulsion
The Miraculous Dimensions of the Taking of
‘The Language of Removal' in the accounts
drive, driven & drives in the Pentateuch
23: 28 you to drive the Hivites, Canaanites and
23: 29 But I will not drive them out in a single
23: 30 Little by little I will drive them out before
23: 31 in the land and you will drive them out before
you. (?Command or notification)
33: 2 I will send an angel before you and drive
34: 11 Obey what I command you today. I will drive
34: 24 I will drive out nations before you and enlarge
in Exodus (i.e. Spoken by the Lord before the 40 year waiting time)
18: 24 nations that I am going to drive out before
20: 23 the nations I am going to drive out before
in Leviticus (i.e. Spoken by the Lord, probably before the 40 years
33: 52 drive out all the inhabitants of the land
33: 55 `But if you do not drive out the inhabitants
in Numbers (i.e. Spoken by the Lord just before entering the Land)
4: 38 to drive out before you nations greater and
7: 17 How can we drive them out?"
7: 22 The LORD your God will drive out those nations
9: 3 And you will drive them out and annihilate
9: 4 that the LORD is going to drive them out before
9: 5 the LORD your God will drive them out before
11: 23 then the LORD will drive out all these nations
18: 12 the LORD your God will drive out those nations
in Deuteronomy (i.e. Spoken by Moses just before entering the Land)
9: 4 After the LORD your God has driven them out
12: 29 But when you have driven them out and settled
in their land,
19: 1 and when you have driven them out and settled
in Deuteronomy (see above)
7:1 and drives out before you
in Deuteronomy (see above)
addition (see below) there were 8 in Joshua
31 in all referring to them being
Destroy, annihilate and wipe out in the Pentateuch
7:24 No one will be able to stand up against you; you will destroy
9:3 He will destroy them; he will subdue them before
you. And you will drive them out and annihilate
them quickly, as the LORD has promised you.
31:3 He will destroy these nations before you,
there are NO references to ‘destroying' the Canaanites in Ex, Lev
& Num and only 3 in Deut, but
note also -
23:23 I will wipe them out .
7:24 you will wipe out their names from under heaven.
12:3 you will wipe out
their names from under heaven.
9:3 you will drive them out and annihilate them
also 1 ‘destroy' and 1 ‘wipe out' in Joshua
a total of 9 all together referring
to their destruction
Additionally in Joshua showing the understanding of what was happening
3: 10 that he will certainly drive out before you
the Canaanites, (Joshua)
13: 6 I myself will drive them out before the Israelites.
13: 13 But the Israelites did not drive out the
people of (the Lord)
14: 12 I will drive them out just as he said."
17: 13 forced labor but did not drive them out completely.
17: 18 you can drive them out." (Joshua)
23: 5 The LORD your God himself will drive them
23: 13 your God will no longer drive out these nations
before you (Joshua)
in Joshua (i.e. Spoken by variety during the process of taking the
11:19,20 “Except for the Hivites living in Gibeon , not one city made
a treaty of peace with the Israelites, who took them all in battle.
For it was the LORD himself who hardened their hearts to wage war
against Israel, so that he might destroy them totally,
exterminating them without mercy, as the LORD had commanded Moses.”
in Joshua, by the recorder
9:24 Your servants were clearly told how the LORD your God had commanded
his servant Moses to give you the whole land and to wipe out
all its inhabitants from before you
in Joshua spoken by the Gibeonites showing their understanding
may also find value in considering the following aspects of these
WHEN THEY WERE GIVEN
In Exodus and Leviticus all the references
are about the Lord DRIVING out the inhabitants, with the exception
of the very first declaration of wiping them out.
These are all prior to Israel 's refusal to
enter the Land initially and are statements of intent by
Thus in those books there are NO commands for
Israel to oust the inhabitants.
WHO SPOKE THEM
In Exodus and Leviticus all the references
are the Lord speaking out His intentions
In Numbers there is a command and a warning
given by the Lord to drive them out
In Deuteronomy most of the words come by the
mouth of Moses
We include Joshua above simply to indicate
the understanding of the various speakers.
COMMANDS OR INTENTS
Most surprisingly in Exodus there are seven
‘statements of intent' for the Lord to drive out the occupants (&
2 in Leviticus) and just 1 reference to Him wiping them out. There
are NO commands to Israel to do it.
In Numbers there is one command to drive them
out, and one warning against failure.
In Deuteronomy there is one question mark over
their ability to drive out the enemy (7:17), but then 8 references
to the Lord driving them out, and 2 references to Israel having
driven them out. None of these are commands.
In Deuteronomy there are also 2 references
to the Lord destroying them (9:3 & 31:3) and 2 references to
Israel destroying them (7:24 & 12:3) and 2 references to Israel
wiping them out (7:24 & 12:3) and 1 reference to them annihilating
them (9:3) None of these are commands but simply assumptions of
what IS going to happen.