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Extermination of Canaanite people


In Deuteronomy it is promised to people of Israel a new land after the escape from Egypt. Yahweh enunciates also the rules to which Israel will have to be concerned during the conquest of Canaan (Palestine, from 1948 Israel): extermination, destructions, reduction in slavery, tributes awaiting for the vanquished.

Only fruit trees will be save "20:19When you shall besiege a city a long time, in making war against it to take it, you shall not destroy the trees of it by wielding an axe against them; for you may eat of them, and you shall not cut them down; for is the tree of the field man, that it should be besieged of you?" (Deuteronomy 20:19).

Locality: Canaan (Palestine, from 1948 Israel)

Age of the events: XI-XII century B.C.

Text: Bible - Ancient Testament - Deuteronomy 7, 12 and 20


TEXT (extracts from Deuteronomy 7)

The extermination order

7:1When Yahweh your God shall bring you into the land where you go to possess it, and shall cast out many nations before you, the Hittite, and the Girgashite, and the Amorite, and the Canaanite, and the Perizzite, and the Hivite, and the Jebusite, seven nations greater and mightier than you; 7:2and when Yahweh your God shall deliver them up before you, and you shall strike them; then you shall utterly destroy them: you shall make no covenant with them, nor show mercy to them;

No mixed weddings with the Canaanites

7:3neither shall you make marriages with them; your daughter you shall not give to his son, nor his daughter shall you take to your son.

Destroy the religious culture of Canaan people

7:5But thus shall you deal with them: you shall break down their altars, and dash in pieces their pillars, and hew down their Asherim, and burn their engraved images with fire.

No pity for the Canaanites

7:16You shall consume all the peoples who Yahweh your God shall deliver to you; your eye shall not pity them...


TEXT (extracts from Deuteronomy 12)

Destruction of every sacred object or place of Canaan people

12:2You shall surely destroy all the places in which the nations that you shall dispossess served their gods, on the high mountains, and on the hills, and under every green tree: 12:3and you shall break down their altars, and dash in pieces their pillars, and burn their Asherim with fire; and you shall cut down the engraved images of their gods; and you shall destroy their name out of that place.

TEXT (extracts from Deuteronomy 20)

The city surrenders: Payment of tributes

20:10When you draw near to a city to fight against it, then proclaim peace to it. 20:11It shall be, if it make you answer of peace, and open to you, then it shall be, that all the people who are found therein shall become tributary to you, and shall serve you.

The city resists: Extermination of males and booty (women, children and cattle)

20:12If it will make no peace with you, but will make war against you, then you shall besiege it: 20:13and when Yahweh your God delivers it into your hand, you shall strike every male of it with the edge of the sword: 20:14but the women, and the little ones, and the cattle, and all that is in the city, even all the spoil of it, shall you take for a prey to yourself; and you shall eat the spoil of your enemies, which Yahweh your God has given you.

For the people of Canaan: complete extermination

20:15Thus shall you do to all the cities which are very far off from you, which are not of the cities of these nations. 20:16But of the cities of these peoples, that Yahweh your God gives you for an inheritance, you shall save alive nothing that breathes; 20:17but you shall utterly destroy them: the Hittite, and the Amorite, the Canaanite, and the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite; as Yahweh your God has commanded you...