The transferability of sin: punishing
|Deuteronomy 7:1-2: "... the seven
nations greater and mightier than thou; And when the LORD thy God shall deliver
them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt
make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them."|
|Joshua 6:21: "And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword.|
This latter passage describes how, after the walls of the city of Jericho fell, the soldiers ran into the city, and killed all its inhabitants: elderly men and women, mature men and women, pregnant women, youths, boys, girls, infants and newborns. Their goal was to entirely wipe out the Canaanite culture by exterminating its people.
|Joshua 10:40-41: "So Joshua smote all the country of the hills, and of the south, and of the vale, and of the springs, and all their kings: he left none remaining, but utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the LORD God of Israel commanded. And Joshua smote them from Kadesh-barnea even unto Gaza, and all the country of Goshen, even unto Gibeon."|
People of all ages: men, women children, infants and newborns were also killed in the cities of Ai, Makkedah, Libnah, Lachish, Gezer, Elgon, Hebron, Debir, Hormah, Bashan, and Sisera. They utterly destroyed "the men, and the women, and the little ones, of every city." They "left none to remain" alive. (Deuteronomy 2:26-35). 1
The justification given for this genocide was that the Pagans who inhabited the land worshiped Gods other than Yahweh (a.k.a. Jehovah). Again, what were considered sinful religious acts by the adults were used to justify the slaughter of children, infants and newborns who had not reached the age of accountability.
God may have had second thoughts about these genocides. Faced with a similar problem with the people of Nineveh, he sent Jonah to the offending group to preach repentance. He was successful; God forgave the people of Nineveh and allowed them to continue living.
This story contains two examples of the transfer of sin from a guilty person to innocent people:
|Noting that the town of Ai contained few people, Joshua sent about 3,000 soldiers to attack it. Joshua's army was routed and about 36 soldiers were killed. God explained to Joshua that:|
"Israel hath sinned, and they have have also transgressed my covenant which I commanded them: for they have even taken of the accursed thing, and have also stolen, and dissembled also, and they have put it even among their own stuff."
God transferred the responsibility for the sin from one soldier -- the thief -- to all of Israel. About unrelated 36 soldiers died because of the transgression of one man.
|Achan of the tribe of Judah, "the silver, and the garment, and the wedge of gold, and his sons, and his daughters, and his oxen, and his asses, and his sheep, and his tent, and all that he had" were taken to the valley of Achor. He and his children were stoned to death. Their bodies were later burned. His wife may well have been included as one of his possessions who was burned; wives at the time were often considered as property.|
There is no indication in the text that his wife bore any responsibility for the theft, or even had knowledge of the stolen goods. His sons and daughters, of unknown ages, were probably innocent of any criminal act as well. But again, the sin of their father was transferred to his entire family.
Joshua's army attacked Ai for the second time. While one contingent of soldiers fought with the army of Ai, another group entered Ai, set it on fire, and massacred every human in the town. The king was hanged on a tree.
Copyright © 2002 to 2011 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally written: 2002-OCT-20
Latest update: 2011-NOV-29
Author: B.A. Robinson
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