Monday, September 08, 2014

Living death or merciful death?

At the risk of exhuming a horse carcass to flog it some more, I'd like to make a further observation. Some critics of the OT say it was unnecessary to execute the Canaanite kids along with the adults. Adoption was an alternative. They assure us that that would be more merciful than mass execution.

I have to wonder how much thought they've given to that. Imagine you're a Canaanite child of 7, 8, 9. You watch an Israelite soldier put your parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and older siblings to the sword. He then adopts you.

Is it really more merciful for a 9-year-old (give or take) to witness his whole family cut down while he alone is spared, to be raised by the executioner? Not just being the sole survivor, but being raised by the very person or people who did that to the rest of your family?

From time to time the news reports an accident which killed the parents, leaving their children orphaned. I can't help thinking that it many cases it would be more merciful for families to die together, rather than being torn apart like that. 

I'm not saying that's the ipso facto justification for the OT commands. I'm just responding to critics on their own grounds, when they say the OT commanders are "merciless," and when they offer a more merciful alternative. I don't think they've made a serious effort to project themselves into the mind of a child. Sometimes death is more merciful than life. 

Fact is, it's not hard to destroy a person by killing the one person (or persons) they can't live without. They linger on. But at that point it's a living death. 

1 comment:

  1. Also, if the 9 year old child (e.g. Theon Greyjoy) did become attached to this new family, wouldn't it be considered an abnormal development at best? For example, the Stockholm syndrome isn't meant to be regarded by psychiatric and other medical professionals as psychologically normal, etc.