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What About the Canaanites?

The God who commanded the Israelites to wipe out the inhabitants of the Promised Land also commanded Israel to love and protect the alien.


Editor's note: What follows is a brief excerpt from Christopher Wright's book The God I Don't Understand (Zondervan). One of the book's main questions is "What about the Canaanites?" Why does God command Israel to exterminate the people living in the Promised Land? Part of the answer Wright offers is to show that this command was the exception to a far different attitude toward the alien reflected in Old Testament law. To read the PreachingToday.com interview with Wright about his book, click here.

Care for Foreigners in Old Testament Law

A major counterbalance to the destruction of the Canaanites in the conquest narrative is the strength of practical concern for foreigners that is enshrined in Old Testament law. Many foreigners (whether former Canaanite population or immigrants) assimilated and became "resident aliens." But generally foreigners were vulnerable, because they lacked the natural protections of family and land. There was a strongly positive concern for their well-being and ...

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