In recent months I have become acquainted with a young man who asserts that he was an “Evangelical Christian” for 26 years. Dr. Joshua Bowen states that it was his abhorrence with the texts of the Old Testament that left him with an irreconcilable conundrum.
“One of the things I think, growing up as an evangelical Christian did for my thinking about things in the Old Testament, the Bible, was that it required that I put on a certain set of lenses when I view the texts.”
The lens that Josh Bowen used to look through in understanding the Bible, was the view that God did not have the right to commit genocide against the Canaanite people. In a recorded interview with, “The Thinking Atheist,” Josh Bowen states that it was this realization that God has instituted murder and genocide against the Amalekites, a part of the larger group who occupied the land of Canaan, the Canaanites, that caused him to designate Yahweh as, “a terrorist.”
Most people know the story of the Israelites departing Egypt and making their journey across the desert into the land God promised them. The narrative of the Hebrew people in Canaan really begins with Abraham who was born in Haran. As he made his way into the land that God was bringing them, the Amalekites attacked the Israelites. The Canaanites were already heavily occupying the entire area of land that would one day be the future home of Israel.
The Canaanites are the descendants of Canaan, the son of Ham, one of Noah’s three sons. Among the Canaanites are the most infamous—the Amorites, who lived in the hill country of Israel. The rest of the Canaanites include: the Perizzites, Hivites, Jebusites, Amalekites, Hittites, Moabites, Edomites, Philistines, and Girgashites. The people of the Canaanite nations were some of the most brutal and vicious human beings who have ever lived on the planet.
Archeology Confirms The Total Depravity Of The Canaanites
Professor H. H. Rowley asserts that the commands by the God of the Bible to destroy the Canaanites, are contrary to the texts of the New Testament.[A] Critics of God often claim that the God of the Old Testament is a monster who indiscriminately murders women, children, babies, and animals, who have no culpability.
Today due to modern archeological discoveries we understand that the Canaanites were some of the most depraved and vicious people ever to live on earth. Because of archeology, the statements made in the Old Testament regarding the Canaanites, are confirmed by what these reprobate people left behind.
In these facts of evidence we learn that the Canaanites were fully culpable and deserved judgment for their bloodthirsty and immoral lives perpetrated all over the land of Canaan. The idea that God was unjust in their destruction, or that Yahweh committed genocide upon innocent people is preposterous, in light of the archeological evidence.
Canaanite kings forcibly married their sisters. Young boys were kept as sex slaves and temple prostitutes at the temples of Canaanite gods. The Canaanite god, Anath was a combination of sister and spouse as a goddess who was a mirror image of the deviant practices of Canaanite kings.[B]
The Canaanite goddess, Qudshu, “the Holiness,” is seen as a perverted moral goddess riding nude on the back of a lion, with a lily in one hand and a serpent in the other, seeking sex with her worshippers. Male prostitutes were dedicated to the sex cult of the Qudshu, offering themselves to this goddess in her honor.[C]
The vast number of Canaanite gods in Ugaritic epic literature displays the depth of depravity that characterized the Canaanite people and their demonic religion. Rooted in a debasement of normal human morality, Canaanites considered nothing off limits in the expression of their evil and licentiousness. Canaanites practiced barbaric rituals of murder while in mass orgies, as a part of their religious ceremonies.
A part of these horrendous practices are illustrated in Anath who appears in a fragment of the Baal Epic depicting a bloody orgy of destruction. In this display, Anath is seen butchering young and old, “in the most horrible and wholesale fashion, wading delightedly in human gore up to her knees—yea up to her throat, all the while exulting sadistically.” [D]
Attacking The Israelites From Behind
While the people of Israel were traveling across the desert on their way to the land that God had promised, the Amalekites ruthlessly attacked from the rear where the elderly, sick and handicapped, women, children, and animals came along at a much slower pace.
The Amalekites intentionally came up from behind so that they could kill as many of the helpless people of Israel as possible. After this great slaughter of the Israelites by the Amalekites, the God of Israel reminded them that He would do to the Amalekites, what they did to the people of Israel.[E]
When God ordered judgement against the Amalekites, He said that their punishment would be equal to what they had done to the Israelites; the elderly, sick, handicapped, women, babies, children, and animals.
God was not committing genocide, He was bringing judgment for a nation and people who had mercilessly slaughtered the people of Israel who were simply traveling along in a caravan to the land God promised.
As a result of their cruelty to Israel, the Lord instructs Moses to record these events, so that later generations might understand why the Amalekites were destroyed, when God finally sent judgment upon these people—so that His actions would be justified.
Exodus 17:8-14 8. Now Amalek came and fought with Israel in Rephidim. …Then the LORD said to Moses, “Write this for a memorial in the book and recount it in the hearing of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.”
In the Book of Deuteronomy, as the Lord is instructing Moses in the statutes and requirements for the people, He also tells Moses: “Remember what Amalek did to you.” This is a reminder for the future when the people come into the land that God has promised them, so that they will understand why He will instruct His people, the Jews, to completely annihilate the Amalekites from the face of the earth.
Deuteronomy 25:17-19 “Remember what Amalek did to you on the way as you were coming out of Egypt, how he met you on the way and attacked your rear ranks, all the stragglers at your rear, when you were tired and weary; and he did not fear God. Therefore it shall be, when the LORD your God has given you rest from your enemies all around, in the land which the LORD your God is giving you to possess as an inheritance, that you will blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven. You shall not forget.
There are two places in the Old Testament where the Lord describes Israel as being attacked from the rear by the Amalekites: At Rephidim and Hormah.
Exodus 17:8 Now Amalek came and fought with Israel in Rephidim.
Number2 14:45 Then the Amalekites and the Canaanites who dwelt in that mountain came down and attacked them, and drove them back as far as Hormah.
In a large group of more than 2 million people—making their way across the desert of Sinai, there would be many thousands of elderly, the sick, and women with children, who would be at the rear of the multitude of Israel. The Amalekites viciously came up from behind and slaughtered the weak and the helpless who were already traveling by great difficulty.
At the beginning of the Book of Deuteronomy, Moses begins his instructions to the people whom he has led out of Egypt by God’s power and grace. In chapter 9, Moses reminds the people that God has not led them into this new land because they were righteous and deserved the land; it was because of the wickedness of the Canaanites that God was going to drive these nations out.
Deuteronomy 9:1-4 Hear, O Israel: You are to cross over the Jordan today, and go in to dispossess nations greater and mightier than yourself, cities great and fortified up to heaven, a people great and tall, the descendants of the Anakim, whom you know, and of whom you heard it said, “Who can stand before the descendants of Anak?” Therefore understand today that the LORD your God is He who goes over before you as a consuming fire. He will destroy them and bring them down before you; so you shall drive them out and destroy them quickly, as the LORD has said to you. “Do not think in your heart, after the LORD your God has cast them out before you, saying, ‘Because of my righteousness the LORD has brought me in to possess this land’; but it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD is driving them out from before you.”
God remembers the cruelty of the Amalekites, but He will not destroy them just yet. He is still granting time for repentance, almost 900 years. This is a fact that those who condemn God for finally destroying the Amalekites—forget. Many people incorrectly assume that God suddenly gave an order to indiscriminately destroy women and children without mercy. What we discover is that the Lord allowed the Amalekites nearly 900 years before His judgment arrived.
Contrary To The Assertions Of Josh Bowen, God Did Not Commit Genocide, He Rendered A Righteous Judgement
Most reasonable people would agree that warning a nation to cease offering their babies to the fiery hot arms of a pagan god, Molech, for nearly 900 years, is more than fair. Atheists like Josh Bowen, see this act as an example that proves the Old Testament texts are not true or reliable. Later Josh will tell us that we can trust the pagan texts he will present to us, more than the texts of the Bible.
The ironic thing about this assertion by Josh Bowen, is the people he is referencing for an authority to impeach the Old Testament, are the very people God destroyed for burning their babies to death as a sacrifice to their god, Molech.
Archeologists have uncovered the ruins of Canaanite villages and found the remains of clay jars that were used in their ritual worship. Newborn babies were dismembered, and their body parts were placed inside these jars and sealed inside the walls of newly built homes—to bring the blessings of their brutal gods.
It is not necessary to list all the horrendous acts that were perpetrated by the Canaanites. It is sufficient to say—if all the facts were known by people today, the horrific deeds carried out by these cruel people, we would likely commend God for ending their lives.
Dr. Joshua Bowen, PhD, Falsely Asserts The Old Testament, “Endorses Slavery”
The Amalekites were among the four kings that Abraham defeated, who had taken Sodom and Gomorrah captive as well as Abraham’s nephew Lot. In the period of the Judges, the Amalekites joined forces with the Ammonites and King Eglon of Moab to attack and capture Jericho. The Amalekites were defeated by Gideon and his armies at the valley of Jezreel, where the future Battle of Armageddon will be fought. By the time Saul is king of Israel, the Amalekites had gained a mountain in the land of Ephraim in Israel, where they were once again living and multiplying.
Judgement Will Come; It Is A Part Of God’s Righteousness
God is making a statement to the world that He loves us all, but He will only put up with our sin and rebellion against His law for a finite period of time. The fact that we can observe the judgement of God so carefully depicted for us in various places throughout the Old Testament should greatly humble us and bring our hearts to repentance. As surely as God has judged the horrible acts of the Canaanites, He will also bring into judgement all of our sins—if we do not repent and turn to Him for Salvation.
What kind of nation would the United States be, if the laws instituted by the executive and legislative branches of our government were not enforced by the judicial branch, with penalties exacted against those who violated these laws? This land would be unsafe and unfit for any decent person to live in.
If God cannot be trusted to do what He has said, both positively and negatively, then He cannot be trusted at all. What makes God trustworthy is the certainty that He always does what He says He will do. More importantly, since God has promised to punish sin we can understand that there are moral absolutes in the world. We are not left to decide for ourselves what is right and what is wrong. All of the laws of civilized societies have, as their origin, the laws of God—defined first in the Old Testament.
Dr. Joshua Bowen makes continued accusations that blame the God of the Bible for his departure into atheism. He has now assumed a firm position as a chief adversary of God and his word. Bowen has made himself judge over Yahweh, and condemned this Righteous and Holy God, of evil.
Josh Bowen Is Now The Judge Of The Whole Earth—HIs Views As An Adversary Of God, Are The Rule By Which He Asserts We Should Judge God
When any honest person reads the texts of the Old Testament for themselves, they quickly discern that the Amalekites were vicious and murderous people who came up behind the people of Israel on their slow journey through the desert. They came up behind because this is where the most vulnerable people were located.
Bowen condemns God for killing the women, children, and animals of the Amalekites, but this is exactly what the Amalekites did to the vulnerable of Israel. Josh Bowen defends evil people, while condemning God for bringing judgment against the actions of the Amalekites.
What kind of man asserts that he was once a true Christian, a follower and believer in Jesus, a believer in the God of the Bible, but later calls God, evil? There is no justification for Bowen to assert that God is a terrorist, and committed genocide.
Which one of us who had our own family attacked by evil people, as they murdered the old, the infirmed, the women, children, and all of our animals, would not seek judgement for these people? God loves those who trust in Him, and He does judge people who seek to destroy the family He loves.
Only a truly evil man would condemn God for defending His own family.
Dr. Josh Bowen: “Is Yahweh A Terrorist?”
The question we might ask anyone who develops this view of God, is, “who has the exclusive right to judge sin and evil in the world?” An honest person would say that the one who created human life, certainly has the right to determine our morality, and the consequences of our wrongs.
God Asks: “Now prepare yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer Me: “Would you indeed annul My judgment? Would you condemn Me that you may be justified?” ~Job 40:7-8
As Bowen viewed Yahweh in the Old Testament bringing judgement to the Amalekites, forgetting and ignoring what the texts state; that the destruction of the Amalekites was a righteous judgment that God warned these people would come; Bowen believes that his own sense of justice supersedes the righteousness of God. Bowen said in an interview at “The Thinking Atheist,” in 2022, that the actions of Yahweh are the same as any other terrorist we find in history.
Josh Bowen Asserts His Own Sense Of Morality, Over The Morality Of God
When we study the Bible with sincerity, seeking to understand the God who is revealed by these texts, we first notice that He gave these texts to faithful men like Moses, who recorded them for us. God wants us to know Him, and to first understand that He is Holy.
The term, “Holy,” in application to God, means that He is perfect in righteousness. He can never do any evil, He can never do any wrong. God is also portrayed as the very epitome of love, full of kindness, extremely patient, but also just and has no tolerance for sin: moral imperfection.
God made us in His own image. He made us morally perfect, and He has always demanded that we live moral and perfect lives. In the Garden God gave Adam a choice to either continue in moral perfection, or to partake of evil, commit sin and ruin the perfect life God intended for Him and all who would come after.
From the beginning God said that, “all souls are mine and the soul who sins will die.” ~Ezekiel 18:4
Paul describes the payment we will receive for our sins, as an eternal death—eternal separation from God.
In Genesis 3:15, Immediately after Adam and Eve sinned and lost their moral perfection and right to live forever, God promised a Savior, a Messiah, a Christ—who would come into the world as a human being—as Yahweh living in HIm. He would live a morally perfect life, never sin, and offer his perfect life as payment for all our sins. Everyone who trusts in Jesus, the one who died for us, is accounted as righteous by God, and all their sins are removed.
In The Old Testament God Warned Nations And People To Cease Their Worship Of Their Demon Gods, And Sacrifice Of Their Babies To Molech
As God called one people to become a nation of believers in Yahweh—the One God—He separated the Hebrew people from the pagan world, and brought them into the land of Canaan. God warned His people not to partake of the false worship of demon gods, the Canaanites worshipped. He warned HIs people not to intermarry with the Canaanites, or make treaties with them.
When Yahweh brought the Hebrew people out of Egypt, from their 400 years of slavery, he told them that they would be brought into Canaan where an evil people lived, and later He would bring judgement to these people, the Canaanites.
God waited to institute the judgment He promised, until He had given the Canaanite people almost 900 years to repent and end their evil. The Canaanites did not repent, but became more evil as God delayed judgment.
“But in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.” ~Genesis 15:16
When the judgment finally arrived, as God called His people to be the instruments of His judgement, the Amalekites met their judgment. God had patiently waited for the Amalekites for an extraordinarily long time. Which of us could condemn God for bringing judgment upon a nation and people who brutally slaughtered the old, the sick, the handicapped, women, babies, children and animals?
This is exactly what the Amalekites did to the Israelites. God’s judgment of these people was righteous. The judgement God brought to the Amalekites was equal to their crime. The Amalekites slaughtered the old, the sick, the handicapped, women, babies, children and animals. God did the same to them.
Our God is filled with love, patience, and kindness. He is also a God of justice and He said, “My Spirit will not always strive with man” (Gen. 6:3). When God warns us to repent and cease our evil, there is a time that He allows us to change our mind, repent, and end our sins. If we do not, we will experience the judgment of God.
This is His exclusive right as the Creator of all that exists. God alone is perfect in righteousness, and therefore, He alone has the right to judge all of us.
- A Debate With Josh Bowen, PhD, Regarding The Source Of The Pentateuch
- Dr. Joshua Bowen, PhD, Falsely Asserts The Old Testament, “Endorses Slavery”
- Dr. Josh Bowen: An Illustration Of His Inability To Understand The Scriptures
- Impeaching Dr. Josh Bowen And; The Atheist Handbook To The Old Testament
[A] Rediscovery of the Old Testament, 1946, P 187, “Relevance of the Bible,”, P321.
[B] 1. Ugaritic Literature, Gordon, p. 9-56. 2. Albright, Archeology and the religion of Israel, P. 73. 3. William Albright, “From The Stone Age to Christianity, (Baltimore) P 178.
[C] 1. Albright, Archeology and the Religion of Israel, P 76, 2. Gordon, Ugaritic Literature 11:2-240, P 171.
[D] Gordon, Ugaritic Literature, 11:2-40; P 171., “Archeology And The Old Testament,” Merrill F. Unger, P. 174.
[E] The attack of the Israelites by the Amalekites is confirmed by various sources:
1. Fritz V., The Emergence of Israel in the Twelfth and Eleventh Centuries B.C.E.. Atlanta 2011. ISBN 978-1-58983-262-6.
2. The Oxford Bible Commentary, oprac. J. Barton, J. Muddiman, New York 2001. ISBN 978-0-19-875500-5.
3. Barton, John; Muddiman, John (25 January 2007). The Oxford Bible Commentary. OUP Oxford. ISBN 978-0-19-927718-6.
4. Judges 3:13, Judges 7:12; 1 Samuel 15:33, 1 Samuel 27:8–11; 1 Kings 4:41–43.
 From the Expositor’s Bible Commentary on 2 Kings 23:10, regarding child sacrifices to Molech by the Amalekites: “An eighth- century b. c. Phoenician inscription speaks of sacrifices made to Molech before battle by the Cilicians and their enemies. Topheth was the cultic installation where children were offered to the god Molech. The word is thought to signify the hearth where the child was placed. The Hebrew term has parallel terms in both Ugaritic and Aramaic with the meaning “furnace, fireplace.” Scholars have thought that Topheth was at the edge of the valley of Ben Hinnom before connecting with the Kidron Valley. The valley of Ben Hinnom has been identified with Wadier-Rahabi southwest of the City of David. Many consider Molech to be a netherworld deity featuring rituals with Canaanite origins focusing on dead ancestors.”
 JAR-BURIAL CUSTOMS AND THE QUESTION OF INFANT SACRIFICE IN PALESTINE: W. H. WOOD, PH.D.”An unqualified affirmative answer has been received from Mr. Macalister, director of the British work at Gezer, based on his interpretation of the unique find made “in the earth underlying the temple area” of that ancient city. This “cemetery of infants deposited in large jars” when carefully explored produced such positive evidence that the conclusion was reported at once: “that we have here to deal with infant sacrifices is, I think, so self-evident that it may be assumed without argument.” This opinion has not since been changed but has been further affirmed by the other Palestinian excavators, Professor D. E. Sellin and Dr. Schumacher, and also by the distinguished Father Vincent of Jerusalem, author of “Canaan d’apres 1’exploration recente.”
“The description of the discovery as given by Mr. Macalister may be summarized as follows: In the earth underneath the temple area were found a number of large jars, each of which contained, besides the infilling earth, the bones of either a young infant or a child up to six years of age; the bodies had not been mutilated; they had been deposited in the jar usually head downward; the jars were full of earth which there was reason for believing had been put in at the time of burial; in four cases the bones showed some traces of fire; the usual food and liquid vessels accompanied each burial. These observations, strengthened by the opinion of Robertson Smith -that in human sacrifice “effusion of blood was normally avoided,” immediately produced the conviction that these infants had been “suffocated-perhaps smothered in the earth with which the jars were filled,” and therefore the Canaanites followed the practice of sacrificing their first-born children to their gods.”
Categories: Robert Clifton Robinson
Why is it when you mention works like ‘The Oxford Bible Commentary’ or Volkmar Fritz’s ‘The Emergence of Israel in the Twelfth and Eleventh Centuries B.C.E’ you don’t cite specific pages from those works? I’ve seen other apologists do this sort of thing and most of the time it’s a clear sign they’ve never read the works in question or are lifting from another apologist and passing it off as if they themselves have done the research.
You are right. We should all be more diligent in all our work for the Lord.
Why don’t you use your diligence to bring people closer to Jesus, rather than push them away?
He is worthy of the very best we can give Him.