Monday, August 6, 2007

Personal Asides: The Trivia Answer…God’s Command—Kill the Amalekites, All of Them Including Women and Children.” How to Understand it?

Trivia Answer.

The epitaph on the tombstone of a snooty and snotty head waiter who would ignore customers except for the rich and famous is:

By and by, God caught his eye.

God’s Command.

The other day while cramming for finals…at 79 you tend to do that more than ever…I was reading about “Tisha B’Av,” which in the Jewish calendar is noted as a day of calamity. By happenstance two horrors to befall the Jews occurred on July 23, my birthday. On that day the first and second temples of Jerusalem were destroyed—the first in 586 B. C. and the second in A. D. 70. Jewish rabbis say that such disasters occurred because the Jews did not obey to the letter God’s commands. And what were the commands?

To wipe out the Amalekites. That’s right: not just their warriors but also women and children.

They were descendents of Esau who were the ancient equivalent of the al-Qaeda. Israel’s first encounter with them came at Rephidim near Sinai. Moses stood on top of a hill and held up the rod of God until Israel won the battle. (Ex 17:1,8-16). The Amalekites attacked stragglers during the wanderings in the desert (Dt 25:17,18). Moses in his farewell address reminded the Israelites that they had been harassed by Amalek’s descendants and pronounced that the will of God was that the Jews should blot all all remembrance of the name Amalek (Dt 25:17-19). He said that the Israelites were to kill civilians as well as combatants. And that meant the children.

In other words, God wanted the Jews to follow His words and not worry about the details. When He said get rid of the enemies down to the last woman and child, He meant it. When the Israelites did not and shrank from the duty, they were punished.

How do you interpret this admonition from a supposedly loving God…and the fact that when the Jews failed to carry out the order they were punished twice on July 23rds? God was saying that the terrorists were so bad that what was required was to do what you ordinarily shrank from doing.

For that matter, how do you rationalize Passover? It is of supreme theological importance for the Israelites since it marked one of the most momentous acts of divine intervention in their history. It was the beginning of their deliverance from bondage in Egypt when, in the final plague, God destroyed the first-born of the Egyptians but spared those Israelites whose homes had blood of sacrificed pure lambs smeared on the doorframes (Ex 12:11-30)?

Our initial reaction is to slam the book shut and say that this is a blind God, motivated by anger and hence un-God-like. But God cannot sin or be tempted by sin of any kind so God’s anger is not an unreasonable, unjustified or arbitrary passion but the conflict between His holiness and sin.

What do these passages tell us? That the God of all life sees a transcendent importance beyond life since He sent His only begotten Son to die for our sins. In that context, we Christians know two things: first, His sovereign purpose in calling a people—the Jews--out of paganism and establishing for true faith among the nations and of God’s sovereign power in protecting them, of his sovereign power in dealing with their departure from holiness. And secondly of God’s sovereign grace in forgiving their sins and restoring them to Himself by providing through them a Savior for the entire world which is where the bonding of the Judeo-Christian faith comes in.

Who are the implacable enemies of Judeo-Christianity? Islam, without doubt. The Koran commands Muslims to make war on Jews and Christians and the jihad continues today as Europe could well be Islamic by the end of this century.

What about the (to us by today’s standards) draconian order to the Israelites to kill the Amalekites? What it tells me is this: God has always from the outset taught that our destiny does not end at the water’s edge, which our death. As a matter of fact, death is not supposed to be very terrifying at all. He who sent his Son to triumph over Satan and over death may well expect us to stand up to the al-Qaeda as the Israelites were supposed to…and failed…stand up to the current day Amalekites. This will spur some angry comments to this article I know—but that’s what I believe.

All of this is within me when I say that we must not believe that Islam is a religion of “peace” but must win this struggle with it—in the same way we won over the USSR. No, I have not heard the command that we must eliminate Islam but I am not sanguine enough to doubt that it is God’s intention. We have already received one catastrophe which came as result of our failure to appreciate the Islam threat. It is the task of our political leaders to see that we will the ultimate battle, so help us God.


  1. elizabeth alexanderAugust 6, 2007 at 2:45 AM

    I can only pray that no president runs America by the Old Testament. Read all of it. Read where young women are sacrificed. This idea is insane. Really.

  2. Do you ask and answer this question --- "Who are the implacable enemies of Judeo-Christianity? Islam, without doubt." -- so that you can be a better lover of your enemies? If not, don't confuse the issue. Let congress -- whether you disagree with them or not -- identify this nation's enemies.

  3. "I can only pray that no president runs America by the Old Testament. Read all of it. Read where young women are sacrificed. This idea is insane. Really."

    And 40,000,000 corpses (and rising) of unborn infants sacrificed on the altar of American liberal legal compassion is better? Or the fact that our culture is beginning to stink as badly as Sodom itself? Hold off on any pats on the collective back of contemporary society just yet.

  4. Hi Tom,
    I am open to your ideas regarding this plague called "Islam". However, this is the first time I have heard a justification to fight Islam based on the Old Testament. My question is: what support does the Church offer for these views of yours? Have any saints, popes, doctors of the Church, etc espoused similar views? What basis is there in Tradition for these views?

  5. I read todays posting carefully. Mr. Roeser did not use the OT as justification to go to war with Islam. These Bible passages say that we should not avoid fighting our enemies.

    Many in the Catholic church are anti-war at any cost. I am one who believes that we are in the most important war of our history. God does not say "run away" God does not say "let them win". God says fight your enemies.

    And no, I did not vote for my Congressmen to tell me who my enemies are. I'm sure if you lived in my district you'd agree.

  6. "...I did not vote for my Congressmen to tell me who my enemies are." I'm sure you didn't, Mr. March. I'm just waiting for Tom to rally the members of his parish to get the Pope to join with Reformed and Hassidic Jews to raise an interfaith army to fight the common enemy.

  7. The Old Testament and the Koran have more in common with each other than either of them has with the New Testament.

    The New Testament, through the life of Jesus Christ, the Innovator, transformed the brutality of the Ancient World. Christ was the Redeemer and the iconography of Christ holding the lamb, the symbol of protection of the innocent.

    Islam is our enemy only in so far as we cannot accommodate its peoples in our culture. The Catholic Church used to be able to do this brilliantly and civilized the world.

    Our Constitution would not have been possible without Christianity.

    Islam is a form of civilizational deconstruction.

    Do we have the courage, heart, and intelligence to assimilate Islam and cultures not like our own?

    Our success or failure will determine not only the fate of the U.S.A, but also the fate of Christianity, particularly Catholocism.

    Do we want to live in peace and have others live in peace?

    How do we bring the disparate peoples of the world into the 21st Century.

    Stalin, Hitler, Mao, etc., decided that some people, the old, sick, the liars, thieves, criminals, insane, etc., needed to be killed in order bring the modern world to fruition.

    What do you think?

    Bomb the villagers? Kill those who oppose us and help those who submit?