time magazine cover, is the bible fact or fiction?

Believing in Torah While Accepting Biblical Criticism

time magazine cover, is the bible fact or fiction?I believe in two things at the same time that seem irreconcilable to many people of faith. On the one hand, I believe in Torah, the very idea of Torah. I believe that God moved prophets and priests and sages to speak and write Torah. I also believe God appointed scribes to preserve and pass it down to later generations. I think we were meant to receive it. It is first for the Jewish people and indirectly, through Yeshua (Jesus) it is for the whole world (in a different way than it is for Jewish people).

To put it simply, I believe Torah is inspired by God.

Yet, at the same time, I accept Biblical criticism as a valid approach to interpreting and understanding the history of the Torah (and the rest of the Bible). That means I believe that literary and historical evidence often prevent us from accepting literally certain claims made by biblical authors and speakers.

Thus, for example, Moses did not give the speeches in Deuteronomy. And, in another example I have written about recently, the Flood Story is really two complete stories that were combined by a later editor. (See “The Flood Story and Torah’s Multiple Authors (Documentary Hypothesis)”).

One commenter objected and said if I think some of the claims made in the Torah are factually incorrect then I disbelieve in Torah. No. Think about it. He is assuming that “believing in Torah” equals “believing Torah contains no factual errors.” It’s not that I disbelieve in Torah. It’s that I disbelieve in the notion of infallibility or inerrancy. The truth is, God clearly does not care about trivial things like whether an ancient priest, prophet, or sage got all their facts right.

So what if Deuteronomy uses the literary technique of putting speeches in the mouth of Moses? It is a device of literature known from many times and places, not least in the Ancient Near East where writers created dialogue by characters such as kings or gods that were invented words. This does not mean the words are necessarily untrue. They are not meant to be a transcript but to tell the story of what happened.

Anyway, I want to comment briefly on why I believe in Torah. I don’t believe in some things contained in and permitted by Torah: slavery, polygamy, patriarchalism, vengeance, genocide. But I believe God intended Torah to be written and passed down to us and that God intended us to encounter him in Torah. God shook Mount Sinai some 3,700 ago or thereabouts. As Abraham Joshua Heschel says, “we have never been the same” (God in Search of Man).

There is a continual presence of sublime thoughts in the Torah that draws me, that shines divine light into the spark in my soul and lights it on fire. Not just mine, you’ve probably experienced it too. I make no claim to greater saintliness than anyone else. It’s the Torah effect. If you open yourself and dig deep, you’ll experience it too. Perhaps you already have.

Don’t let the revelation that Torah is a human book as well as a divine one dampen your spark.

I said something in a recent post which few people seem to have read:

What we should marvel at in a human book — which I also believe to be divine — is not the ruin and blood. Rather, it is the vision of better things that came to prophets and sages and apostles long ago. We don’t need to be convinced that death, hunger, and injustice haunt our world. But we do need reminding that laughter, friendship, and contentment will have the last word.

Torah calls us beyond ourselves. It doesn’t leave us feeling okay with vengeance, but tells us to return our enemy’s donkey when it straying and rescue it if we see it falling under its burden (Exod 23:4-5).

It is not okay really in the Torah to slaughter your enemy or even own a person as property, as was the custom in slavery, because it says we must love our neighbor as ourselves (Lev 19:18) and we must not wrong the immigrant (Lev 19:33-34).

Death is unclean in the Torah. Some of its purifying rituals are symbolic of resurrection (the leper cleansing ceremony).

God sometimes sounds angry in the Torah, but he keeps relenting and giving the people chance after chance.

Perhaps most importantly to me, Torah represents God as mysteriously transcendent and yet able to appear among us. God gets close to people in Torah, on Mount Sinai, in a burning bush, hovering as the divine spirit over the primeval waters, walking back and forth among the people of Israel, going with Israel on the road to Canaan, and in many, many more modes of manifestation.

Torah creates in me a desire to have God draw near to us, near to me. It causes me to long for the blessings of Torah in which food, water, peace, and health are all perfectly granted to every person. It makes me think of a day when the uncleanness of death will be no more.

The prophets whose words came after Torah drew upon it. They sharpened its images. They revealed more of the sublime wonders of the time when God will take over rule of this world.

And Messiah, when he visited us for a short while, drew upon Torah as well. He was the closer manifestation of God than any that had happened before in Torah. He was the promise of Torah made flesh. He was the scion of David and son of Abraham whose presence and actions show us that Torah was right all along. Death is unclean. Love is the way of God. Peace and life are our destiny.

Through the Torah, we are able to see Messiah when we look at Yeshua.

God brought Messiah to us as a limited human being whose true nature is divine. Messiah shares the unique nature of God. Yet Messiah was human. He did not know certain things. He was not everywhere at once. He was able to be killed.

God brought Torah to us as a human book. It is not right in all factual matters. There is room to doubt the permission that it claims was given for campaigns of genocide. Could God have used imperfect men to pass down to us otherworldly truths?

I think so. I believe in both its humanness and divinity.


  1. Yes yes & yes….
    I have always thought Torah liken to messiah both divine & human.
    They both convey G-d’s message to us perfectly & imperfectly.
    Sometimes the answer is both, a & b
    Thank you Derek, wish I could put ideas on a page like you. Blessings

  2. So it appears, Derek, that you believe the story of the burning bush, and that HaShem shook Mount Sinai some 3700 years ago — but on what basis? We’re not arguing over the mere possibility of minor factual discrepancies or errors. If the Torah tells us that Moshe wrote it, and all subsequent Jewish witness confirms it for more than a couple of millennia, then any hypothesis claiming that he didn’t write it, and that some four or more other writers did, is unambiguously claiming that the document is a forgery and a fraud. I defy you to base a consistent and rational moral system, such as Jews have derived from the Torah, on fraudulent documentation. We’re not discussing mere poetic license or literary metaphor that allow anthropomorphic characterizations of personality traits or verbal conversations with HaShem that may have occurred only within the minds of various individual prophets. We’re not discussing literary techniques at all. Fiction (or delusion) that is presented as fact is nothing less than fraud. Some modern religious expressions are rightly condemned for such behavior. And the ultimate logical consequences of the claims of the Documentary Hypothesis are that Jews have no right to claim the land of Israel, and even that we have no right to exist at all as a distinctive people. It is but a short distance, philosophically and historically, from that position to one that justifies the Shoah, and did, in fact, perpetrate it. I can only suggest to you, Derek, that “you know not what spirit you are of”, when you support such a hypothesis. The fact that you are not alone in such unwitting complicity with forces inimical to HaShem’s promises does not provide justification for it.

  3. Okay, I’m no expert in this area, but I have done a great deal of thinking about it. Here’s what I feel God has shown me thus far (and yes, I reserve the right to change my mind as I learn and grow).
    In a nutshell: Scripture is TRUTHFUL HUMAN TESTIMONY of TRUTHFUL/ACTUAL EVENTS that took place in the life of the patriarchs and Israel.
    It was written from the TRUTHFUL mindset and the literary styles of the ancient writers. This does NOT mean that every single word has has been divinely dictated by God or that there have not been redactions from time to time. It also does not mean that minor transcription errors may not have slipped in. Whatever minor “errors” there may be in our current texts, NONE of these has any bearing on any major Biblical tenent either historically or with regard to salvific matters. None of these “errors” in any way ALTERS or contradicts the overall narrative. The narrative remains CONSISTENT throughout. (I say this as one who has read through Scripture many times over the years.)
    Whether or not one chooses to believe the claims that Scripture makes is left to the reader. For those of us with “eyes of faith” issues of “working out one’s salvation” (which includes working through theodicy issues such as “herem”) are likewise left to the reader.

    1. PS: Also, as per the OP, I don’t see consideration of Biblical Criticism and its derived theories as necessarily incompatible with Biblical faith. However, like everything else, its proposed theories themselves need to be considered “critically”. Honest (and as much as possible, objective) reflection and consideration are always commendable. And I believe this is Derek’s goal, which is to read Scripture with “eyes wide open” ( i.e. honestly) and then to work through valid issues/concerns that he sees.

  4. “There is room to doubt the permission that it claims was given for campaigns of genocide.”

    Not sure I am understanding you correctly, Derek. Are you saying that you don’t believe “herem” of the seven Canaanite nations was necessarily commanded by God? Are you saying rather that it was the writers who put these words in God’s mouth in order to justify their own blood-thirst (or disobedience)?
    (Just trying to understand your train of thought.)

    Off topic: God’s herem command would be a good topic for discussion. I think these theodicy issues need to be tackled. I realize many have proposed various “apologetic” answers to this question, however it would nice to discuss here what our various particular views/conclusions are regarding this. I know I would benefit from it.

    1. Hi, Merrill — Regarding your “off-topic” discussion of genocide, I do think it worthwhile to note that the Torah never states any generalizable permission to commit genocide. There was, nonetheless, a specific command from HaShem to destroy utterly certain inhabitants of Canaan because the iniquity of their societies had reached a sufficient level of degradation. In prior observations, HaShem is represented as observing that their iniquity had not yet reached its fullness. Together, these statements allow the development of a view that it is, in fact, possible for a society to degrade to a level where redemption is no longer possible, and the only resolution that can protect other peoples is one of utter destruction. Notice that humans (Jews) were commanded to engage in a specific execution of such destruction, for specific reasons, and that HaShem did not engage in this destruction by Himself, as in the great flood or the destruction of Sodom and Gomorra. One must infer that there was something that Jews were expected to learn from this awful responsibility to act as agents of HaShem to destroy rather than to enlighten.

      The behavior and embedded views that are taught nowadays in some Arab cultures demonstrate that it might be possible even in our own time to be required to engage in similar utter destructions within some strictly limited framework. Those who teach their children that self-immolation via “suicide-bombing” is the only path to glory are already close to destroying themselves by destroying their own progeny (seemingly not so very far removed from the Canaanite worship of Molech). However, defending their neighbors’ survival may require killing such would-be “martyrs” before they can perpetrate their intended murderous task upon their intended victims. Eliminating the “politico-religious views” of those who contaminated the mental processing of such “martyrs”, so that more of them cannot be created, may require wholesale warfare. It’s not a pretty picture, and it takes its toll also upon those who must execute such warfare, but ultimately it may be the closest one can come to exercising compassion toward as many people as possible, and preserving as many lives as possible, despite the need to destroy large numbers of severely-flawed individuals. Note, however, how very different is such a projected theoretical possibility (or even the ancient ‘herem in Torah) from any of the actual genocides that have been committed on earth, particularly within the past few centuries, for other kinds of socio-political reasons.

      1. Shalom PL,
        I agree with much of what you say here regarding the depravity of the Canaanites to the point of no return. However this does this necessarily include all the women and children, even at times animals? I have some thoughts as to why God saw this as a necessary measure. However, I don’t see herem as something that can or should in any way be applied today. The final judgment will reach its eschaton via “the wrath of the Lamb”, not by man’s hand.
        I agree that the judgment of the Canaanite nations by the hand of the Israelites (or the judgment by God’s hand of Sodom, etc.) does not necessarily say anything about the final “eternal state” of each particular individual who died in these earthly judgments.
        I believe each person will be judged INDIVIDUALLY, and as such will receive their just reward or punishment in the afterlife.

        1. PS: **The first sentence in that last paragraph should read “I also agree…” and is in reference to your comment below regarding HaShem’s mercy in the afterlife,

        2. Shalom, Merrill — Have you ever tried to envision exactly how the “wrath of the Lamb” will appear to those watching it happen, or how it will be enacted? Have you envisioned what the folks who are raptured to join the returning Messiah and his heavenly army will be doing shortly thereafter as he fights battles to establish his kingdom on earth and set up his administration in Jerusalem? I speculate that these raptured, transfigured, glorified human disciples, along with those resurrected in the first resurrection (i.e., of the righteous) immediately preceding that “rapture” event, will be fighting alongside the messiah and his heavenly host (army); and that after the victory (and a nice banquet) they will serve in various administrative functions that may include judging the crimes of the defeated wicked ones and maybe even a few evil angels as well (viz:1Cor.6:3). There is thus likely to be a great deal of human involvement in the execution of the Lamb’s Wrath. And will the nightmarish expression of horrible retribution depicted in Ps.137:9 be something that applies also to these messianic warriors, where a blessing is pronounced upon the one who smashes the heads of infants against rocks? Is that merely a poetic metaphor? One may only hope so, most fervently. One Psalter compiled by some dour Scots Presbyterians expressed that verse almost whimsically, perhaps attempting to mitigate the horror of it, as follows: “O blessed may thet trooper be, a-ridin’ on his naggie, that takes thy wee bairns by the taes, and dings them on the craggie”. When Rav Yeshua stated in Mt.5:18 that even the finest details found in Torah and Prophets will remain valid as long as heaven and earth endure, was he not including even the horrifying bits?

          Now, I must confess that I do not at present possess the grace that would enable me to enact such deeds, even given heavenly authorization. Nor do I look forward to finding myself in a situation wherein HaShem would need to grant me such grace. But neither can I rule out the possibility that it could happen. Certainly the human warfare of our own era, even when its soldiers are doing their level best to protect the lives of innocents and uphold the humanitarian principles of Torah, can nonetheless produce truly ugly and horrifying situations and events. I wouldn’t expect that will ever be avoidable even in the most righteous of conflicts.

          1. “There is thus likely to be a great deal of human involvement in the execution of the Lamb’s Wrath.”

            I have thought about this, PL. And it may possibly be that when Yeshua appears during the Day of Jacob’s Trouble/ Great Tribulation at the Parousia that we, in “raptured”/glorified bodies (along with the resurrected OT saints and the angelic forces) are present “assisting” Yeshua. However I believe if we are, it will be “from the air” (in the spiritual realm), and not necessarily on earth. We don’t really know at this point how the eschaton is going to play out. All of the judgments mentioned in the book of Revelation are by the hand of God, (generally in the form of natural or supernatural disasters) but NOT by the hand of believers on any large scale. Also, we have several OT Scriptures which indicate that the final battle will be God’s alone to wager.
            However, even if we are to participate in some manner, here is what needs to be noted: It is always YHWH HIMSELF who gives commands to his forces (whether human or angelic). Harem is NEVER a command that is given by any contemporary earthly human being (i.e. general, religious figure, “prophet” or whomever). During the days of Moses HaShem VERY CLEARLY SPOKE to Moses and the Israelites that the Canaanite nations were to be eliminated. HE was giving the command, and all Israelites knew this. There was no question in the minds of the Israelites WHO was giving the command. They heard Him on Sinai and there was no doubt in their minds WHO was the “Commander in Chief”. The herem command wasn’t just something that Moses (or some of the Israelite leaders ) decided was a necessary measure in cleansing and taking possession of the Land.

            As far as the sad necessity of modern day warfare, of course there will always be unintended casualties in which babies, young children, and other innocents are killed. However this is a far cry from any attempt at justification to offensively eliminate whole population groups; no matter how wicked WE might think they are. (Hasn’t’ history taught us this?) Warfare should always be conducted defensively and justly. Sometimes this requires preemptive measures, but none-the-less, it is always to be done as carefully as possible so as not to cause harm to innocents. I believe the Israeli army is to be particularly commended in exemplifying integrity in conducting warfare. It only engages in war very reluctantly and when it does it takes unprecedented measures to protect innocent life. I don’t believe any other nation in history has been so careful to protect innocent life among opposition forces.

          2. I suspect, Merrill, that we have probably imposed too much already on Derek’s sense of forbearance by pursuing this off-topic discussion; but I did so in order to emphasize that the messianic kingdom will be an actual physical reality, complete with physical consequences attending its establishment by means of warfare against wickedly-determined adversaries as well as physical responsibilities within its administration. Even as now, when HaShem acts upon the earth, sometimes He does so through human agency. Despite our prior fall from grace, that is why He created us; and it is to that purpose He will restore us when our redemption is complete. And that is why the messiah is a man, whether in his role as the ben-Yosef redeemer or as the ben-David king.

            Consequently, it is my view that those who “meet him in the air” will not be staying there, as if they were mere “floaty ghosts” (to borrow an expression I read elsewhere), sitting on the sidelines as spectators or even as cheerleaders. They will return with the rest of the messiah’s heavenly army, in their newly-glorified undying physical bodies, and there, on earth where the battle is to be conducted, they will learn the exact same kinds of lessons as did the ancient Jews who had to fight Canaanites in order to take possession of the land that HaShem had promised to the sons of Israel and had commanded them to possess by force. To be sure, His commandments about the conduct of warfare, particularly the siege of a city, did include initial offers of peace under conditions of subsequent tribute (i.e., taxation and its implicit legal subjugation). Thus we might hope that the warfare to establish the messianic kingdom might also encounter pockets of non-resistance: persons willing to submit to the messiah’s rulership; that it should not all be conducted under conditions where the blood must flow as high as a horse’s bridle (cif: Rev.14:20) — even if that description is merely visionary hyperbole. Nonetheless, just as the ancient Israelites had to experience hard reality in their acquisition of HaShem’s promise of the land, so too should the would-be inhabitants of the messianic kingdom expect to be required to “get real”.

            A regrettable part of that hard reality will be the intended casualties who will not be limited to only adult males. The unintentional collateral casualties will not include solely women and children. Wickedness may overtake them as well, and place them squarely in the intended line of fire (or the path of the sword) as those who must be slain by HaShem’s command in the mouth of His Davidic Messiah and his subordinate commanders. A subsequent part of that hard reality will undoubtedly include the period of atonement and cleansing from tumah that must follow even the most righteous war, in order to transition the warriors (who are also men and women of varying ages) into subsequent civil roles as judges, administrators, and citizens of a working kingdom under godly messianic administration.

            Those who are not currently serving in an active military or even police role under combat conditions (even terroristic combat conditions) may have difficulty comprehending this aspect of HaShem’s Torah. It is not easily or comfortably grasped. Indeed, we have enough difficulty learning to grasp and embrace the disciplines of Torah that teach us to live with each other, and with HaShem, in peace and tranquility. While we certainly should emphasize this positive and pleasant result of the millennial messianic kingdom’s establishment, we cannot forget that it will not be achieved easily or without bloodshed, death, and woe. A generation or two of Israeli Jews have been experiencing similar lessons as the modern nation of Israel has been reborn and its territories reclaimed after centuries of usurpation by one empire or another — and the process is not yet complete. Nonetheless I believe it provides useful precursory illustrations of how the millennial kingdom will become established, and how the messiah’s disciples must prepare themselves.

            The criticism that such disciples may expect to receive while preparing themselves to pursue HaShem’s Torah in all its ways, both for peace and for war, for Israel and for the future messianic kingdom, is quite likely to exceed by far the documentary criticism that wages philosophical war against the historical validity of the biblical text and undermines its reliability. [This statement constitutes my best effort to steer this off-topic digression back toward the topic of Derek’s current blog essay. [:)] ]

          3. I see the eschaton and our role in it, as well as Millennial Era quite a bit differently than the way you’ve described above, PL. You are leaving out the reality of unseen spiritual forces ( “rulers, principalities, powers”) that cause havok on earth. If glorified believers have a role in assisting Messiah during the eschaton, I believe it will be in the spiritual realm. The effects of this will be felt on earth as we “war from the air” against opposing spiritual forces (i.e.satan and his minions).
            As for us being present to administer the Millennial Era under the headship of Messiah, that’s a different subject which would take this tangent further off course from the OP.
            However regarding earthly judgment of irredeemably wicked nations and our possible participation in it: all human involvement must ALWAYS be initiated by direct, explicit, UNAMBIGUOUS command from the “Commander in Chief”, NOT by human decision or imagination. Such a command (if there is one to be given) would need to be on the scale of the Sinai Revelation or greater and witnessed by MANY.

  5. While this article rehashes the nobler aspects of Torah, this article’s attempt to justify faith in the Torah’s validity in light of criticism seems to come up short. Respectfully. The first article seems to put forth evidence to its claims of human intervention. Yet this article, attempting to maintain divine intervention, seems to eschew the previous evidentiary standard and instead marshals feelings.

    Lots of sacred texts say noble things about love and freedom. Lots of sacred texts inspire. Your first article appeals to fact. This one appeals to belief. That doesn’t seem like an even match. If Documentary Hypothesis is true, is there anything objectively factual able vouch for Torah being divine/uncannily unique other than our opinions of it?

    Ex: Egyptian slang in Shemos suggesting a real memory of the exodus. It points to something real. Something special.

  6. Derek, I follow this discussion with interest. I can relate to your view that the bible is human and divine and at the same time inspired and authoritative. I´m not one of those who takes every word hyper-literally, some things might be metaphorically, perhaps sometimes even using the language of myth to convey a spiritual truth – I leave it open, it does not really matter for my faith. I think there is a certain human element in scripture, but I´m also critical towards modern biblical criticism. Here I share PL´s concern, that it can all too easily be misused to undermine the authority of scripture at all. I think we all know people who only seek to find contradictions in order to reject the bible or dismiss it as myth. I find your posts really helpful to find a balance between faith in God and the bible while being open to consider critical questions. But why are you so sure that Moses did not hold a speech? That´s not even unusual on a mere human level. Many great leaders hold speeches, especially before important events. Moses knew he would die and the people were about to enter the promised land, what would be more natural and necessary as to gather the people together and give final instructions and sum up the essence of his (God´s) teaching? That´s not to deny the possibility that later editors might have summed up several teachings into one speech. I´m not an expert or theologian, I don´t know, what matters is that I (and you) hear God´s voice in these words. Concerning the question who has written the Torah, 5. Mose 30,9 and 31, 24-26 state explicitly that Moses did write down the law he received at Sinai and I take that at face value, after all, it does makes sense to me, who could memorize the whole law if it´s not written down?
    Reading the bible with eyes of faith many seeming contradictions are resolved when we begin to understand the meaning and the heart of God. I don´t really see a contradiction between the priestly and Judean version of the flood story, there are discrepancies in the duration of the flood but the most important content is the same. I guess the different numbers (7/40 days or 150 days) have to do with symbolism. It seems strange why the exact age of Noah is important. If I have calculated right, the duration of the flood according to P is 314 days. Has anyone an idea what this could mean? You are probably right, the text flows well the way you divide it, there must be different sources predating Moses. When I compare the 2 versions P mentions more facts like a report (dimension of the ark, age of Moses), J sees more the heart of God in the midst of judgment. Very important for me is the verse “And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.” and “And when the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma, the Lord said in his heart, I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man´s heart is evil from his youth.” This is far from an angry God who wants to destroy, but a loving God who is grieved by our wickedness but instead of finally destroying will make a way for redemption. I think the author, be it Moses or someone else, has skillfully combined both versions to emphasize the importance of this story. I´m sure the author did not accidently repeat himself, but for sake of emphasis or perhaps even to indicate that history will indeed repeat itself and the difference is the even greater mercy of God. The parallels between the Noah story and Yeshua are striking, Yeshua himself compared his generation to Noah´s time. Noah was the only one relatively blameless compared to his generation, but Yeshua is the only totally blameless among mankind. His obedient life and sacrificial death is the pleasing aroma which finally breaks the curse on earth for those who are with him!

    1. Well said, Angelika. I agree completely.

      PS: Did you try to friend me on FB? If so, please feel free to try again. (I wasn’t sure who you were when I received the request, so if this is you, I will happily accept your friend request.)

  7. ProclaimLiberty,

    You said: “The behavior and embedded views that are taught nowadays in some Arab cultures demonstrate that it might be possible even in our own time to be required to engage in similar utter destructions within some strictly limited framework.”

    Are you saying that it might become a necessary public policy at some point for Israel to eliminate completely — men, women, and children — some communities of Palestinians?

    Sounds like that’s what you mean. If you say that is not what you mean, please interpret your words differently or say, “I made a huge mistake and I retract that.”

    1. I’m saying that HaShem knows, and knew with absolute certainty what was necessary regarding the ancient Canaanites, and that He sovereignly commanded Jews upon their entry to Canaanite territory how to conduct warfare against them. I gave an illustration from a modern situation that might someday justify such warfare. I did not say who would be the unfortunate warriors who might be required to conduct it; nor did I attempt to outline any process by which someone could become the recipient of HaShem’s future command to do so. I also did not identify which Arab communities might fall under such condemnation if they did not respond positively to offers of redemption, though exemplary candidates that come to mind include ISIS and Hamas. Certainly it would be much neater and cleaner if HaShem would simply rain fire upon those He knows are deserving of it; and we poor humans could evade the responsibility of acting as His designated agents. Humans are not well suited to recognizing or deciding who is beyond redemption and deserving of destruction. Indeed, modern warriors are much more often faced with the problem of trying to limit damage that unavoidably affects non-combatants. But sometimes they are faced with a horrendous encounter with a child who ought to be protected as a presumed non-combatant and yet is being used by some adult and sent out to kill. School curricula are in effect in some places that specifically inculcate and encourage such behavior in children. American soldiers in VietNam were sometimes faced with this horror, and Israelis are sometimes faced with it nowadays. However, it occurs even more at present in places like Syria and Iraq. Therefore I am not mistaken to project a possibility that a von-Clauswitz-style of total warfare could become necessary.

      Remember your previous discussion of how HaShem might deal with people mercifully after death. In such a framework, His command to engage in wholesale destruction can be mitigated by subsequent compensations for any accidental or incidental miscarriage of justice by His designated human agents. In any case, we must expect humans to abide by His command to pursue complete justice in the most merciful manner possible.

  8. I agree with Merrill that ” it would nice to discuss here what our various particular views/conclusions are regarding this.”
    At the same time adhering to 2Ti 3:16-17 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

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