A few days ago the Telegraph put out an inflammatory article claiming to have disproved the Bible. They did recently amend it though when they were corrected on their facts, which is good. So props for that. In case you missed the drama though I’ll present the relevant Biblical evidence and a bit of my own analysis.
You can find the article here
The original headline was as follows:
“Study disproves Bibles claim ancient Canaanites wiped out”
They have since changed it to read:
“Study shows ancient Canaanites survived divine call in Bible for them to be wiped out”
The verse that they cited as proof is found in Deuteronomy when God orders the destruction of the Canaanites along with a few other civilizations.
“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, 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” Deuteronomy 20:16-17 ESV
Some people try to soften or ignore passages like the one above. They feel that God needs a legal defense or something. I do not, God ordered their destruction and that is that. He is judge and he is allowed to do these things.
I understand these commands as an expression of God’s justice. In the Old Testament the Israelite’s prefigure Christ. He was promised to come through their lineage. We see type and shadow of this throughout the old testament. The antitype always supersedes the type though.
So just as God’s mercy and grace shown in type and shadow with the delivery of a small group of people from bondage in Egypt, it is shown more pronounced on the cross where he delivers us all from sin and death.
In like manner, just as his justice and wrath is shown in type and shadow with the condemnation of people like the Canaanites so to will the antitype of this be even more pronounced on the last day when he judges the nations of the earth and casts the wicked bodily into hell.
Speaking to the article though, the Bible is clear that the Canaanites survived this command. The Israelite’s were not obedient. They disobeyed God’s command and left some of them alive.
“However, they did not drive out the Canaanites who lived in Gezer, so the Canaanites have lived in the midst of Ephraim to this day but have been made to do forced labor.” Joshua 16:10 ESV
I can only guess that perhaps the writers at the Telegraph haven’t spent much time reading the Bible. I can excuse that one could miss this stray verse in Joshua. But anyone who has spent much time at all in scripture knows that the Old Covenant Israelite’s were sent into captivity for disobedience, it’s kind of a major theme. Missing that would be like someone commenting on Romeo and Juliet without understanding the underlying conflict with the Capulets and Montegues.
They make other points in the article about the lack of archaeological evidence for the conquering of Canaan. This actually isn’t true, there is a lot of evidence for it. It’s just not in a time period close to when Ramesses is thought to have ruled Egypt.
There are plenty of ways of dealing with this though. As I understand there exists a great deal of evidence for the exodus and the events following, it just happens many centuries before Ramesses. Logically, either our assumptions about the timeline of the ancient world are incorrect or perhaps the name Ramesses in the Bible is simply an anachronism added in by a scribe much later.
My point is I find both the Telegraphs biblical assertions and historical ones to be intellectually facile. They didn’t bother to fact check their article or even consider facts that contradict their premise. This is incredibly rude and unprofessional. I don’t think they take these matters seriously at all.
In my opinion they are just writing click bait articles to drive up traffic to their website. And that opinion can be supported without ancient archaeological evidence or taking scripture out of context.