God the Original Fascist
Part 4c: Holy Wars—Manifest Destiny in a Biblical Setting
Revolution #021, November 6, 2005, posted at revcom.us
As mentioned earlier in this series, passages spelling out the policy for occupying and annihilating the peoples of Canaan mark only one main theme of Holy Conquest in the Bible. The other way in which the Bible repeatedly upholds such conquest is found in passages that speak in general terms about the supposed justification and necessity for wiping out any people along the way who are not God's "chosen people." For instance, the following passage in Deuteronomy explains that God has chosen his followers to rule over all others:
"For the Lord your God will bless you as He has promised you. You will extend loans to many nations, but require none yourself; you will dominate many nations, but they will not dominate you."
Is it any wonder, given passages like this, that so many Evangelical nutcases insist that not only military conquest, but also a global economic order based on imperial dominance, is all part of "God's plan"?
Or let us once again consider Deuteronomy 20, which contains the passage referenced earlier in this series:
"When you approach a town to attack it, you shall offer it terms of peace. If it responds peaceably and lets you in, all the people present shall serve you as forced labor. If it does not surrender to you, but would join battle with you, you shall lay siege to it....You shall put all the males to the sword. You may, however, take as your booty the women, the children, and the livestock, and everything in its town--all its spoil--and enjoy the use of the spoil of your enemy which the Lord gives you....Thus shall you deal with all the towns that lie very far from you, towns that do not belong to nations hereabout. In the towns of the latter people, however, you shall not let a soul remain alive."
So, to review, the best that invaded peoples can hope for, according to the logic of this passage, is a lifetime of "forced labor"--i.e., slavery. And conquered peoples will only be this "fortunate" if they both surrender immediately to their invaders and if they are lucky enough to be located a safe distance from their attackers. If, on the other hand, they do not wish to be enslaved for the rest of eternity, and/or if they dwell in close proximity to their conquerors, they are doomed to total annihilation.
It is perhaps worth noting again that the Bible does not merely encourage God's followers to engage in wholesale slaughter against other peoples--it actually requires it, lest God's followers themselves be wiped out! For instance, in Deuteronomy 12, Moses reminds the Israelites,
"You must destroy all the sites at which the nations you dispossess worshipped their Gods, whether on lofty mountains and hills or under any luxuriant tree. Tear down their altars, smash their pillars, put their sacred posts to fire, and cut down the images of their gods, obliterating their name from that site."
Or how about the passages cited earlier in this series, describing in vivid detail the consequences for those who refuse to conquer others. Perhaps it is worth revisiting these passages briefly. Numbers 32 was referenced, where Moses tells the Israelites, in essence, that their only two choices are to conquer or become conquered:
"If you do this, if you go to battle as shock troops, at the instance of the Lord, and every shock fighter among you crosses the Jordan, at the instance of the Lord, until He has dispossessed his enemies before him, and the land has been subdued at the instance of the Lord, and then you return--you shall be clear before the Lord and this land shall be your holding under the Lord. But if you do not do so, you will have sinned against the Lord; and know that the Lord will overtake you."
Or how about Numbers 34, where God instructs Moses,
"Speak to the Israelite people, and say to them: When you cross the Jordan into the land of Canaan, you shall dispossess all the inhabitants of the land; you shall destroy their figured objects; you shall destroy all their molten images; you shall demolish all their cult palaces...If you do not dispossess the inhabitants of the land, those whom you allow to remain shall be stings in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they shall harass you in the land in which you live, so that I will do to you what I planned to do to them."
The series concludes next week: Letting God speak for himself; the horrific nightmare that would result if the Bible were taken literally and made the "law of the land."