Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Yahweh's Failed Land Promise

The following article is from TSR, January, 1991:

by Farrell Till

In their desperate efforts to prove that the Bible was verbally inspired of
God, inerrancy believers often point to prophecy fulfillment.  In my debate
with Bill Jackson, he referred to "multiplied dozens of Old Testament prophet-
ic utterances, fulfilled in minute detail in the New Testament, and in such a
manner that there could be no contrivance at all,"  (Jackson-Till Debate, p.
3).  As is true of all who use the prophecy-fulfillment argument, Jackson
could only claim "multiplied dozens" of prophecy fulfillments; he could not cite
a single verifiable example of a fulfilled OT prophecy.

As I said in the debate, the "prophecy fulfillments" that are invariably cited
in support of this argument never actually "happened except in the fertile
imaginations of a few religious mystics whose fanciful interpretations of
certain events have been swallowed hook, line, and sinker by gullible people
like our Mr. Jackson," (Jackson-Till Debate, p. 17).  When logical analysis is
applied to these alleged instances of prophecy fulfillment, it quickly becomes
obvious that there is no real evidence of fulfillment. Time would fail me if I
tried to analyze the many alleged prophecy fulfillments that inerrantists have
pointed to, so instead I will concentrate on a failed prophecy that they never
say much about.

On several occasions prophetic statements were made in the Pentateuch
about the land that Yahweh, the tribal god of the Israelites, had promised to
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  These were clearly stated promises that
Yahweh would give the land of the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites,
Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites to the seed of Abraham. 
In Deuteronomy 7:17-24, for example, Yahweh presumably made this
emphatic promise:

   If thou shalt say in thy heart, These nations are more than I; how
   can I dispossess them?  Thou shalt not be afraid of them: thou
   shalt well remember what Yahweh thy God did unto Pharaoh, and
   unto all Egypt; the great trials which thine eyes saw, and the
   signs, and the wonders, and the mighty hand, and the outstretched
   arm, whereby Yahweh thy God brought thee out: so shall Yahweh
   thy God do unto all the peoples of whom thou art afraid.  Moreover
   Yahweh thy God will send the hornet among them, until they that
   are left, and hide themselves, perish from before thee.  Thou shalt
   not be affrighted at them; for Yahweh thy God is in the midst of
   thee, a great God and a terrible.  And Yahweh thy God will cast
   out those nations before thee by little and little: thou mayest not
   consume them at once, lest the beasts of the field increase upon
   thee. But Yahweh thy God will deliver them up before thee, and
   will discomfit them with a great discomfiture, until they be de-
   stroyed.  And he will deliver their kings unto thy hand, and thou
   shalt make their name to perish from under heaven: there shall no
   man be able to stand before thee, until thou have destroyed them,"
   (ASV with Yahweh substituted for Jehovah).

The substance of this prophecy was repeated in such places as
Exodus 23:20-33; Deut. 4:33-39, Deut. 7:1-2, and Deut. 31:1-8. 
In some of these passages, the names of the "seven nations greater
and mightier than thou" to be driven out of the land were also
specified as they were above: the Amorites, the Canaanites, the
Girgashites, the Hittites, the Hivites, the Jebusites, and the Perizzites.

When Joshua assumed the leadership of Israel after the death of Moses,
the land promise was renewed in very specific terms:

   Now it came to pass after the death of Moses the servant of
   Yahweh that Yahweh spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses'
   minister, saying, Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise,
   go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which
   I do give to them, even to the children of Israel.  Every place that
   the sole of your foot shall tread upon, to you have I given it, as I
   spake unto Moses.  From the wilderness, and this Lebanon, even
   unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hit-
   tites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun,
   shall be your border.  There shall not any man be able to stand
   before thee all the days of thy life; as I was with Moses, so I will
   be with thee; I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.  Be strong and
   of good courage; for thou shalt cause this people to inherit the
   land which I sware unto their fathers to give them, (Joshua 1:1-6,
   ASV, Yahweh substituted). 

Just before crossing the Jordan, Joshua repeated the promise:

   And Joshua said unto the children of Israel, Come hither, and
   hear the words of Yahweh your God.  And Joshua said, Hereby ye
   shall know that the living God is among you, and that he will
   without fail drive out from before you the Canaanite, and the Hit-
   tite, and the Hivite, and the Perizzite, and the Girgashite, and the
   Amorite, and the Jebusite.  Behold, the ark of the covenant of the
   Lord of all the earth passeth over before you into the Jordan,"
   (Joshua 3:9-11).

To stress the emphatic nature of parts of the land promises that Yahweh
made to Israel, I have underlined certain statements. So when all of the
passages I have quoted and listed are considered, we see that the
prophecies included all of the following:

   Without fail, God would  drive out of the land beyond the Jordan
   ALL of the people then possessing it.

   No man among these people would be able to stand before the
   Israelites all the days of their lives.

   The Israelites would drive out the nations possessing the land and
   utterly destroy them and the memory of their name under heaven.
   They were to make no covenants with the nations in this land or
   show mercy to them (Deut. 7:2).

   Every place that the sole of their feet would tread upon, God would
   give to them.

   Their empire would stretch from the Red Sea unto the river Euphrates
   and from  the great sea  (Mediterranean) toward the going down of
   the sun.

To circumvent obvious contradictions that result when Yahweh's promises
are compared to biblical history recorded later, inerrantists contend that
the land promises made to the Israelites were conditional  on their good
behavior, but there is no support for that dodge in the Bible.  In
Deuteronomy 9:3-7, another prophetic passage relating to the land
promise, specific notice was taken of the fact that the Israelites of the
then present generation were themselves undeserving of the land but that
it would be given to them for the sake of the promises made to Abraham,
Isaac, and Jacob:

   Know therefore this day, that Yahweh thy God is he who goeth
   over before thee as a devouring fire; he will destroy them, and he
   will bring them down before thee: so shalt thou drive them out, and
   make them to perish quickly, as Yahweh hath spoken unto thee.
   Speak not thou in thy heart, after that Yahweh thy God hath thrust
   them out from before thee, saying, For my righteousness Yahweh
   hath brought me in to possess this land; whereas for the wicked-
   ness of these nations Yahweh doth drive them out from before thee.
   Not for thy righteousness, or for the uprightness of thy heart,
   dost thou go in to possess their land; but for the wickedness of
   these nations Yahweh thy God doth drive them out from before
   thee, AND THAT HE MAY ESTABLISH  THE  WORD  WHICH 
   YAHWEH SWARE UNTO THY FATHERS, TO  ABRAHAM, 
   TO  ISAAC,  AND  TO JACOB.  Know therefore, that Yahweh
   thy God giveth thee not this good land to possess it for thy
   righteousness; for thou art a stiff-necked people.

So here is another clear statement.  God was not giving the land to the Is-
raelites because of their righteousness; in fact, he considered them a stiff-
necked, undeserving people. (See also Exodus 33:1-6.)  He was giving the
land to them because of the unconditional promise that he had made to
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  Unless he did this, he would have reneged
on a promise made to the patriarchs with no strings attached, (Gen. 12:7;
13:14-16).

The unconditional nature of Yahweh's land promise was restated in Leviti-
cus 26:42-45:

   Then will I remember my covenant with Jacob; and also my cove-
   nant with Isaac, and also my covenant with Abraham will I remem-
   ber; and I will remember the land.  The land also shall be left by
   them, and shall enjoy its sabbaths, while it lieth desolate without
   them: and they shall accept of the punishment of their iniquity;
   because, even because they rejected mine ordinances, and their
   soul abhorred my statutes.  And yet for all that, when they are in the
   land of their enemies, I will not reject them, neither will I abhor
   them, to destroy them utterly, and to break my covenant with them;
   for I am Yahweh their God; but I will for their sakes remember the
   covenant of their ancestors, whom I brought forth out of the land
   of Egypt in the sight of the nations, that I might be their God: I
   am Yahweh.

So time and time again, it was specifically said that the Israelites would be
given the land of Canaan, REGARDLESS OF THEIR OWN CONDUCT,
so that Yahweh could fulfill the promise that he made to Abraham, Isaac,
and Jacob. Inerrantists who deny this are denying biblical statements
worded just as plainly as anything ever said on the subject of creation,
the resurrection, baptism, final judgment, and other important Christian
doctrines.

As proof that the land promise was dependent on the good behavior of the
Israelites, inerrantists like to cite Exodus 23:20-33 where a conditional sug-
gestion was attached to the promise: "But if thou shalt indeed hearken unto
his voice (the angel that was to go before them, FT) and do all that he
speak, then I will be an enemy unto thine enemies and an adversary unto
thine adversaries."  In emphasizing the if in this verse, they overlook an im-
portant point.  If Yahweh said that he would fulfill the promises made to
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob regardless of the wickedness of the generation
that went in to possess the land, he could not turn around later and say that
he would make good his promise only if the people were obedient.  That
would put a contradiction into the scriptures that the inerrantists would have
to explain, because the land promise could not have been both conditional
and unconditional at the same time.  And clearly the passages cited earlier
were unconditional in promising the land to the Israelites.

So after Yahweh had unconditionally promised to the Israelites that they
would be given the land beyond the Jordan, under Joshua's leadership they
went in to possess it, and initially the Bible claims that they succeeded.  The
claim, in fact, was that Joshua thoroughly and completely subdued the land:

   So Joshua smote ALL the land, the hill-country, and the South,
   and the lowland, and the slopes, and all their kings: he left none
   remaining, but he utterly destroyed all that breathed, AS YAHWEH,
   THE GOD OF ISRAEL, COMMANDED.  And Joshua smote them
   from Kadesh-barnea even unto Gaza, and all the country of Goshen,
   even unto Gibeon.  And all these kings and their land did Joshua take
   at one time, because Yahweh, the God of Israel, fought for Israel. And
   Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, unto the camp to Gilgal,
   (Joshua 10:40-43, ASV, Yahweh for Jehovah).

In places, the Bible is almost boringly repetitious, but this writing char-
acteristic of the "inspired" spokesmen of God often works to the advantage
of those who seek to debunk the myth that God verbally inspired the writing
of the Bible.  In this case, it makes it easy to establish that a complete,
unqualified fulfillment of the land promises was claimed by the "inspired"
men who wrote the Old Testament.  Consider, for example, the clearly
stated claim of the following passages:

   And Yahweh said unto Joshua, Be not afraid because of them (the
   armies of the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Jebusites, and Hivites
   poised for battle against the Israelites, FT); for tomorrow at this
   time will I deliver them up ALL slain before Israel: thou shalt hock
   their horses, and burn their chariots with fire.  So Joshua came,
   and all the people of war with him, against them by the waters of
   Merom suddenly, and fell upon them. And Yahweh delivered them
   into the hand of Israel, and they smote them, and chased them unto
   great Sidon, and unto Misrephothmaim, and unto the valley of
   Mizpeh eastward; and they smote them, until they left them none
   remaining.  And Joshua did unto them as Yahweh bade him: he
   hocked their horses, and burnt their chariots with fire.  And
   Joshua turned back at that time, and took Hazor, and smote the
   king thereof with the sword: for Hazor beforetime was the head of
   all those kingdoms.  And they smote all the souls that were therein
   with the edge of the sword, utterly destroying them; THERE WERE
   NONE LEFT THAT BREATHED: and he burnt Hazor with fire.  And
   all the cities of those kings, and all the kings of them, did Joshua
   take, and he smote them with the edge of the sword, and utterly
   destroyed them; as Moses the servant of Yahweh commanded.  But
   as for the cities that stood on their mounds, Israel burned none of
   them, save Hazor only; that did Joshua burn.  And all the spoil of
   these cities, and the cattle, the children of Israel took for a prey
   unto themselves; but every man they smote with the edge of the
   sword, until they had destroyed them, neither left they any that
   breathed.  As Yahweh commanded Moses his servant, so did Moses
   command Joshua: and so did Joshua; he left nothing undone of all
   that Yahweh commanded Moses, (Joshua 11:6-15, Yahweh substi-
   tuted).

   So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that Yahweh
   spake unto Moses; and Joshua gave it for an inheritance unto Israel
   according to their divisions by their tribes.  And the land had rest
   from war, (Joshua 11:23, Yahweh substituted).

   So Yahweh gave unto Israel ALL the land which he sware to give
   unto their fathers; and they possessed it, and dwelt therein.  And
   Yahweh gave them rest round about, according to all that he sware
   unto their fathers: and there stood not a man of all their enemies
   before them; Yahweh delivered all their enemies into their hand.
   THERE FAILED NOT AUGHT OF ANY  GOOD  THING 
   WHICH  YAHWEH HAD SPOKEN UNTO THE HOUSE OF
   ISRAEL.  ALL CAME  TO  PASS, (Joshua 21:43-45, Yahweh
   substituted).

These statements are fully as clear as Mark 16:16 and Acts 2:38.  Yahweh
gave unto Israel ALL the land that he swore to give to their fathers, and the
dimensions of that land were clearly laid out in such passages as Exodus
23:20-33 and Joshua 1:1-6.  Its borders extended from the Red Sea to the
sea of the Philistines, from the wilderness, to Lebanon, and to the great
river Euphrates.  Furthermore, the fulfillment claims state that the Israelites
left none alive to breathe and that not a man of all their enemies stood before
them. Who were those enemies?  Time and time again, they were named
in the land prophecies: the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites,
the Hittites, the Hivites, the Jebusites, and the Perizzites.  Yet after
audaciously claiming in the passages noted above that every aspect of
Yahweh's land promise had been fulfilled, the writer(s) turned around
and brazenly admitted that some parts of the land were not conquered
and some of the peoples in these lands were not driven out:

   Now Joshua was old and well stricken in years; and Yahweh said
   unto him, Thou art old and well stricken in years, and there re-
   maineth yet very much land to be possessed.  This is the land that
   yet remaineth: all the regions of the Philistines, and all the Geshu-
   rites; from the Shihor, which is before Egypt, even unto the border
   of Ekron northward, which is reckoned to the Canaanites; the five
   lords of the Philistines; the Gazites, and the Ashdodites, the Ashke-
   lonites, the Gittites, and the Ekronites; also the Avvim, on the
   south; all the land of the Canaanites, and Mearah that belongeth to
   the Sidonians, unto Aphek, to the border of the Amorites; and the
   land of the Gebalites, and all Lebanon, toward the sunrising, from
   Baalgad under mount Hermon unto the entrance of Hamath; all the
   inhabitants of the hill-country from Lebanon unto Misrephothmaim,
   even all the Sidonians; them will I drive out from before the chil-
   dren of Israel: only allot thou it unto Israel for an inheritance, as I
   have commanded thee, (Joshua 13:1-6, Yahweh substituted).

This statement flatly contradicts the claim in Joshua 11:23 that Joshua "took
the whole land, according to all that Yahweh spake unto Moses" so that the
land had rest from war.  All of the territorial regions singled out in this
passage as land that remained to be possessed lay within the boundaries
that were laid out in Joshua 1:1-6 to specify the scope of the land that
Yahweh would give to the Israelites.  So if Joshua had indeed taken "the
WHOLE land, according to all that Yahweh spake unto Moses," as claimed
in Joshua 11:23, how could it be said later  that "very much land" remained
to be possessed?  Perhaps some of our inerrantist readers can answer this
question. They are good at coming up with far-fetched, how-it-could-have-
been scenarios to "explain" obvious contradictions in the Bible.

Most of the rest of the book of Joshua and the better part of Judges contradict
all of the fulfillment claims that I have noted above.  Joshua 15:63 says,
"And as for the JEBUSITES, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the children
of Judah could not drive them out; but the Jebusites dwell with the children
of Judah at Jerusalem unto this day."  Yet the Jebusites were specifically
named as one of the seven nations "greater and mightier than thou" that
would be utterly destroyed.  Joshua 16:10 says, "And they drove not out the
CANAANITES that dwelt in Gezer; but the Canaanites dwell in the midst of
Ephraim unto this day, and are become servants to do taskwork."  But the
Canaanites were specifically listed as one of the seven nations that would be
utterly destroyed.  Joshua 17:12-13 says, "Yet the children of Manasseh
could not drive out the inhabitants of those cities; but the Canaanites would
dwell in that land.  And it came to pass, when the children of Israel were
waxed strong, that they put the Canaanites to taskwork, and did not utterly
drive them out."  Yet the promise had clearly been that the Canaanites would
be utterly driven out, that NO MAN would be able to stand before the Israel-
ites all the days of their lives.  Making servants  of them can hardly be
considered fulfillment of a prophecy declaring that they would be "utterly
driven out."  In fact, it contradicts a restriction noted on page three that
expressly prohibited the Israelites from making covenants with the inhabitants
of their promised land.

In Joshua 16:10; 17:12-13; Judges 1:1-5; 1:9; 1:21; 1:27-36; 3:1-6 and
many other places, references are made to the people that the Israelites
could not drive out of the land, and many of these were specific references
to people from the "seven nations greater and mightier than thou" that
Yahweh promised that he would drive out WITHOUT FAIL.  But he
didn't, and so the inerrancy (see PROMISE, p. 11) champions have some
serious explaining to do.  IF "Yahweh gave unto Israel ALL the land which
he sware to give unto their fathers" (Joshua 21:43-45) and IF "they
possessed it (the land) and dwelt therein" (same passage) and IF Yahweh
"gave them rest round about, according to ALL that he sware unto their
fathers" (same passage) and IF "there stood not a man of ALL their enemies
before them" (same passage) and IF "Yahweh delivered all their enemies
into their hand" (same passage) and IF "there failed not AUGHT of any
good thing which Yahweh had spoken unto the house of Israel" (same
passage) and IF "all came to pass" (same passage), how could it have
been that some of the enemies of Israel were still in the land during the
time of the book of Judges and how could it have been that some of the
people of the "seven nations greater and mightier than thou" were still
dwelling with the children of Israel "unto this day"?

Someone has a lot of explaining to do, and it isn't those of us who reject
the inerrancy doctrine.

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